A new book by George A. Fox, The Moonhawker, is definitely a top-of-the-line action mystery that comes fully loaded to provide an edge-of-your-seat reading experience. Fox tells the thrilling tale of complex and unpredictable protagonist Atticus Gunner, who is hurled from the pages almost as soon as you open the book. From that point on, the story unfolds at breakneck speed, with the reader hard pressed to keep up. But despite the book’s length and pace, most readers will be left wanting more.
The Moonhawker is hard to summarize. It’s easier to tell someone what it’s got, than what it’s about. And what the story has is more than meets the eye. Fox understands the thriller genre and all its sub-genres. He has created a classic “every man” protagonist possessed of both good and evil, with the capability to use both to overcome any obstacles which the story’s villain-driven plot presents.
And Fox has made certain that an abundance of villains populate the pages. Intriguingly, these are not the villains one would expect to find in a small island fishing and summer community off the shores of Lake Michigan. So, in addition to his current island responsibilities as school administrator and part-time cop, (or is he much more than just the local law?), Atticus must also face these unforeseen nemeses.
But Atticus Gunner is up to the challenge. Although Fox skillfully renders him as a real person with genuine flaws and weaknesses, he seems believably larger than life. As daunting and insurmountable as many of the obstacles he faces appear to be, and as unimaginable and suspenseful they might be, we believe Atticus will succeed — because, we want him to.
Fox has concocted his story with traditional thriller-action ingredients, including adventure, heart-stopping action, suspense, stress, exhilaration, mystery, and romance. But the key ingredient is a secret. Indeed, at times the reader might wonder if everyone on the island has at least one secret. The literary device of creating reader engagement through speculation adds yet another enjoyable element to the story.
Charles A. Fox had a long career in public school teaching and administration. He began the manuscript for what would become the The Moonhawker many years ago, during his a time in school administration at a small island school community in Northern Lake Michigan. It was 15 years after his retirement that he dug out the old manuscript, reworked it, and transformed it into this book. The quintessential thriller-action novel, The Moonhawker will be a challenge to top for Fox. But I hope he is up for that challenge. I know Atticus Gunner would be.
(Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views.)