From the Ashes

Published March 10, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of From the Ashes by Jeremy Burns:

Overview from www.bn.com: Graduate students Jonathan and Michael Rickner, sons of eminent archeologist Sir William Rickner, are no strangers to historical mysteries and archeological adventures. But when Michael is discovered dead in his Washington, D.C. apartment, Jon refuses to believe the official ruling of suicide. Digging deeper into his brother’s work, he discovers evidence that Michael was murdered to keep his dissertation research buried.

My Review:

One of the more recent Free Friday offerings, this book would have been bargain even if they had charged $5 for it. The story was billed as a tale of a modern-day Indiana Jones. Personally I saw only a slight resemblance to the Indiana Jones stories but that in no way diminished the quality of the tale. Although the story tended to skip around in time a lot more than the typical thriller, nearly all of the loose ends came together at the end. There was only one story thread that never seemed to be fully explained to my satisfaction but I didn’t mind that much since the most important ones had been nailed down.

The main characters exist in different times but most of the story centers on the present day after the murder or suicide (depending on who you ask) of Michael Rickner, our main character’s older brother. Jonathan Rickner gets the call from Michael’s fiancée Mara who tells him that his brother has just died under mysterious circumstances. The police, she says, are calling it a suicide.

When Jonathan arrives in the Wash. D.C. area where his brother was living at the time of his death, Mara also informs him that she thinks the police are way off base. After all, she and Michael had just gotten engaged and Michael was just about to present some evidence to someone (I am sorry but I forgot who it was) that would make his career as a historian/archeologist. The night before his big presentation  he mysteriously commits “suicide” according to the police but Mara says it doesn’t add up. Jon agrees and thinks it most likely has something to do with whatever Michael was investing. Together they decide to find out what he was working on in hopes of not only fulfilling his work goals but also discovering exactly how he died.

Jon learns from Mara that Michael kept all his work on his laptop and his notebook which are still in his brother’s apartment and decides to go in and retrieve these items. That’s when all hell breaks loose. He barely finishes letting himself in when Michael’s killer, also looking for the laptop, jimmies the lock on the apartment door and discovers Jon. A fight ensues, ending with Jon fleeing the apartment with his brother’s backpack and notebook but forgetting the computer. The killer cleans up the mess from his altercation with Jon, taking the computer with him.

Now Jon knows that he and Mara are on the right track but after investigating the apartment, the police don’t believe him. Whatever they decide to do, he and Mara now know they are on their own until they get proof of what really happened to Michael. The ensuing plot takes them to New York City where a number of clues lead to a top-secret document that the government will do anything to keep out of the public eye. Meanwhile, Jon and Mara must dodge people who are trying to kill them and a mysterious man who says he is on their side.

The story is awesome. It provides all of the things that I look for in a good novel, especially a historical fiction novel, and kept me wanting to turn the page even when I was supposed to be doing housework. I learned  a lot of new things about the World War I era as well. But the best thing that the author did in this novel was to have something like an afterword at the end that explained what parts of the novel actually happened and what parts came purely from his imagination. I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes historical fiction or thrillers. It kept me wanting more.

Contains: some profanity, killing and violence.

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