by Weston Ochse
Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted November 10, 2020
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I received an e-ARC of this title direct from the author, and shortly after that Net Galley approved the request I had previously made with them. It will be published in three weeks, December 1. It's a conspiracy theory thriller concerning the fabled giants of Earth's past, referenced in many ancient texts, including the Bible (Genesis 6: "There were giants in the earth in those days…"). The main character is Ethan McCloud, a laid-off math teacher in Nebraska, who receives a mysterious box from his father, full of information and warnings about the rival groups, The Council of David and the followers of The Six-Fingered Man. Shortly after that he gets a frantic call from his mother, who tells him his father is acting very strange. He travels to their home near Denver, only for his father to die of an aneurism shortly after his arrival. Or was his death something else, connected to one of the conspiracy groups? One is working to hunt down and kill giants, the other to protect them, although it takes a long time and many perilous encounters for Ethan to ascertain which is which. The search for evidence of the giants existence is known as a "bone chase."
It's an interesting premise, backed up with some solid research. Each chapter ends with excerpts from journals that were in the box, along with further searches on Ethan's part, as well as by his ex-girlfriend, who also gets involved in the chase. I googled most of them myself, and while some did not produce results others did, the most surprising including an Abraham Lincoln quote about Niagara Falls, and a posthumously published book by Isaac Newton, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended. The bone chase takes Ethan and Shannon south to a fortified bunker on the Arizona-Mexico border, then clues lead him to San Antonio, a flight to Lapland, then to Helsinki, Malta, and lastly to Chile. As I said, an interesting premise, but the execution is lacking Weston's usual taut action and suspense, and the character and plot development needed shoring up. Perhaps if Shannon had a larger part, since she is the trained soldier, as is Weston. Ethan's math skills aid him somewhat, but he makes a lot of mistakes due to his unfamiliarty with weapons and tactics. It reads like a less experienced writer attempting fanfic of people and situations Mulder and Scully might encounter. Granted, the ARC needed a lot of edits, which Weston recently acknowledged, but duplicated sentences and repetitive phrases aside, instead of a tense progression, it's more a series of set pieces that don't add up to a satisfactory conclusion.
If it is a conclusion that is, but I'm not sure if this is a stand-alone, which is frustrating. In the end Ethan and Shannon are hiding out in Chile, off the grid, hoping neither the Six-Fingered Man or the Council of David ever figure out where they are. Not to mention any giants that might still be around. The problem with most conspiracy theories of this nature is the scope, the number of people involved, which should lead to evidence being easy to find. If giants actually exist, how could they hide from us for so long? This is the first of Weston's books I've read that disappointed, and I can't give it a recommendation. However, if he ever follows up on the story I'll probably read it, and I may check out the finished book sometime in the future to see if it has been improved.
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