A Life Unbroken is the first thriller in what novelist K. M. Hewitt calls her Alex McKay series, and from the descriptions of this debut, it sounds promising—biological weapons, a South American prison, an overreaching amoral political power broker; this is the stuff of page turning adventure. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t deliver on its promise.
Alex McKay is a plant biologist working on medicinal uses for cannabis on behalf of the government, when she accidently stumbles upon a secret biological weapons project. While she suspects something questionable is going on, she really doesn’t know anything for certain. Her troubles begin when an influential advisor to the president suspects she knows too much and develops a complex plan to get her out of the country and out of the way. He has her sent to South America on some trumped up assignment, and once there she is drugged and imprisoned in a hell hole. After six years in prison, she is released to work for a local patriarch who is having problems on his vineyard. There she makes a new life and dreams of vengeance.
All well and good, except that Hewitt never really manages to make any of it believable. For the most part her characters are clichés. Alex’s years in prison, which for some authors, would make a darn good novel, here get short shrift. Her return to the States and her revenge lack drama. There is a lot of melodramatic posturing and little excitement.
Moreover there are some nuts and bolts problems. Hewitt’s prose is often clunky, her dialogue stiff and unnatural. There are problems with the narrative point of view. She has no problem switching from Alex’s first person narrative to third person, often in the same paragraph. There are some bothersome problems with the chronology. The most egregious—when the novel begins, the president is already in office. Alex spends six years in prison, and two years recovering before she returns—eight years in total. And the same president is still in office.
A good editor might have helped. I would hope Hewitt finds one to work on Alex McKay, Book II.
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