Saturday, October 31, 2020

Second Cousin Once Removed

Henry Atkinson's life as an attorney is slow, predictable, and lonely, given his divorce and his ex-wife's custody of the kids. He recently took up geneology as a hobby to fill the time, but it doesn't do much to spice up his mundane routine. Until the day he prods at a dead end of one of the branches of his family tree. 

Who is this cousin Shelley, whom he's never met or even heard of in years? Ignoring a warning to leave well enough alone, Henry still doesn't find much in his deeper delve into the mystery--just a concerning criminal record for the man that finally convinces him to drop the matter. But Shelley is a man who doesn't want to be found or even looked for. And now he knows someone has been looking. 

Faster than he knows what's hit him, Henry is propelled into sudden mayhem, receiving ominous threats, meeting mysterious strangers, and running for his life.
Book source ~ Tour
Kenneth L. Toppell
8 September 2020
232 Pages

My Rating ~ 2 bites

Henry Atkinson is a research attorney in New York. He’s semi-retired and single, so for a project he decides to dig into his family tree. When he gets to Shelley Garcon, his cousin’s nephew, he discovers a killer. And now the killer knows Henry is looking into him. Before Henry realizes it, his life is in danger and he runs, taking an unsuspecting woman with him. Trying to stay out of Shelley’s sight and keep Carolyn Trellis safe he creates a new life away from NY and Carolyn goes along with him. But things are never that simple. 

This story has a great premise and it starts off fine. But then it becomes wildly farfetched and extremely hard to believe. In addition, the skeleton of a good story is here, but there’s no real meat to it. It jumps from scene to scene, the world and characters fall flat, and the timeline is wonky. I honestly think it reads more like a first draft than a finished story.  This author is new-to-me, so I don’t know if this is his typical writing style or not. If so then it’s not to my liking. I like characters who step off the page, a world that becomes my world, and a plot that is, at the very least, slightly believable. I like the premise and Henry’s a decent character, but the rest of the book is a disappointment to me.

The Author

Author Ken Toppell wanted to write when he went to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was there during a tumultuous time, the start of the sit-in campaigns, the onset of the civil rights movement. He graduated with a degree in History and Political Science before he went on to Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, and postgraduate training in Houston, Texas, and in the army.

Over the next forty-eight years, Ken did his writing on medical wards and in intensive care units. Ken saw organ transplants go from rare procedures only done by celebrity doctors to a new surgical specialty. Passionate physicians implemented new forms of medical research and brought HIV/AIDS from an epidemic with a 100 percent mortality rate to an outpatient disease. There were new tools and new drugs, and Ken learned why medicine is called practice.

As the years passed by, Ken began to give lectures in American History, and he had some time to do a new kind of writing. He now lives in Plano, Texas, where he reads, writes, and enjoys life with his wife of fifty-four years.

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