Saturday, December 7, 2013

REVIEW: "Piercing the Darkness" - by D.A. Bale

I read/reviewed the prequel to this book in June.  D.A. Bale honored me greatly by allowing me to read the second book....which I loved as well!!  That second book is the book in this post.  It's worth the time it takes to read, believe me!!  Seriously, I'm on pins and needles for the next book in the series....

"Get set for the continuation of the Deepest Darkness series with this sequel to Running into the Darkness by D. A. Bale.

Samantha Bartlett is running for her life. Haunted by her past actions and with nearly every government agency on the manhunt, Samantha lives alone and off the grid. But those who have come under her care won’t let her simply shove them aside. Surrounded by the unlikeliest of humanity, Samantha still feels the sharp sting of loneliness, but for the first time in years she also tastes the sweetness of freedom – for the moment.

For FBI Agent Joe Roberts, Washington D.C. has become too dicey since President Warner’s murder – and a constant reminder of his encounter with their primary suspect. An opportunity arises to continue investigating Oleander Enterprises and what has become known as the Hitler Survival Conspiracy. Key documents are making their way from classified vaults back to where experiments first took place. Joe stops at nothing to intercept them, even when his actions place him on the Elite’s short list – and the FBI’s.

Debrille’s plans for an Elite Empire are nearing fruition, but without the brilliant Dr. Marcus, his life’s work threatens to crumble. The Bartlett woman needs to be silenced before ruining his carefully devised schemes. Debrille is tired of games with mere jokers, but the ace is in position – and only waiting to be played.

The search for the truth brings the participants to a breaking point collision. The battle lines are redrawn as reality pierces a lifetime of lies – and freedom can only be found in truth."

Sometimes life emulates fiction.

Life is filled with tragedy and Ms. Bale's writing reflects this reality. However, there is always a silver lining...even if one must spend their entire life searching for it.

In her previous career, Ms. Bale traveled the United States as a Government Relations Liaison, working closely with Congressional offices and various government agencies. This experience afforded her a glimpse into the sometimes "not so pretty" reality of the political sphere. Much of this reality and various locations throughout her travels make it into her writing.

She dreams of the day she can return to visit Alaska.

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Sequels to good works tend to either go one of two ways: they ROCK or they flunk totally.  It can be hard to follow a good story with an equally good story that does all elements of the previous story justice (have I confused you yet?).  But what is justice?  Can justice be truly found in the midst of a super crappy situation?  What if justice isn't a nice black-an-white issue that can be tied up with a pretty little bow, but instead involves elements and people best left uncovered?  

D.A. Bale has successfully followed up a tremendously good book with an equally tremendous sequel that dutifully captures the essence of the characters and plot situations, while doing the entire story justice and still leaving me wanting more when my Kindle says "you are at the end!"  A heinous, sinister, baleful, and disgusting plot which contains elements that would intrigue The Brain (of "Pinky and The Brain") has caught our heroine in its clutches, a humanitarian whose soft heart has been brutally hardened by difficult circumstances and people.  Heart-pumping action, well-developed characters, gut-wrenching situations...this book is not for the faint of heart!  It is rewarding on many levels, however, and would be the perfect stocking stuffer at this time of year.



The Good 



Gamers will recognize that a slash followed by a verb = that verb happening to a gaming toon - at least in some games (example: /dance will make a World of Warcraft toon dance).  And now that I've outed myself as a gamer.....

This book is fantastic!

D.A. Bale set a very high standard with the first book in this series, and to be honest I was a little nervous about reading the sequel.  Sequels can be well....squelches that ruin the first book.  I needn't have worried.  

We leave the first book at what we think is the end of a long process to commit a terribly huge crime that puts a woman's freedom, if not her very life, in jeopardy.  We're left teetering on the edge of a cliff...what exactly happened to so-and-so?  Of course, we can guess some outcomes....but given that nothing in these works are very predictable (though I will admit that this second book is slightly more predictable than the first), hazarding guesses is dangerous. 

Samantha was thrown into an impossible situation and is now running for her very life.  Desperate to do some good to undo some of the evil she has committed, she engages in humanitarian efforts while sleeping with both eyes open.  She's got good reason to do so - not only is the government and all of its forces out to capture her (which include, just fyi, her high school flame), but the Elite, a group headed by a man whose true identity would shock anyone, is determined to catch her first.

This book tells the story of the chase after Samantha Jane.  An FBI agent is hot on her trail, but he's also had the hots for her for years.  Another FBI agent is determined to find her, but he may not be all he seems.  Lies are told.  Truth is obscured.  Hearts race (from lust, fear, desire, close calls, etc).  A sequel is just as good as its predecessor.  

Characters are true to themselves and unique once again.  Bale does not need to spend tons of time developing the characters from scratch (at least, not most of them) because she did such an expert job in the first work.  They are uniquely themselves and continue in a way that is true to their original characterization.  This is pretty cool.  New characters who are introduced receive the time and attention necessary for us to get a flavor of their unique, irreplaceable personalities.  One of the things I appreciate?  We get a sense of each of their motivations.  At least, this is true for any of those who have any real presence within these pages.

One of these days I'm going to quiz Bale about her research practices, because she has such an intricate knowledge of politics and the world of law enforcement that I'm sure either someone in her family is involved in one area or the other, or she must live in a library.  :)  Details about the processes that make interactions here make sense are put forth so seamlessly and easily that one leaves the book with a similar feeling that an amateur can have when leaving a dancing experience with a professional dancer: you look fabulous and well-informed because your professional partner is the one who is an expert at leading.  Bale makes it look easy!  

Bale also knows how to keep readers reading.  The plot here is quick and engaging, bringing readers further along a thrill-ride than they may have ever wanted to go....but getting off the ride isn't an option either because it is just too darned interesting!  I have to know what happens next....

I can't wait for the final installment of this story.  I've been with Samantha through her indoctrination and flight from the Elite, with Joe through his adult story with Samantha, and beside several other key figures who make you just want to set things right.  One of the characters seriously tries the fact that I'm against death penalty, but once you READ THIS BOOK and find out exactly who that character is, I'm sure you'll agree.  

Are you ready for a thrilling adventure that would be worthy of the cast who played in "Alias"?  Are you ready for literal and physical explosions, many people not being quite who they may initially seem, a plot that will leave you craving more, and a twisted/tangled sense of honor, justice, and destiny?  READ THIS BOOK!!

Personal confession time: this book nearly made me cry twice.  Books don't make me cry.  If they make me cry, it is because they've seriously entwined themselves within my heartstrings.  So there.  :P

The Bugly (bad/ugly)i
As fabulous as this work is, it isn't without a few flaws:
  • The science still seems wonky.  I complained about this in the first book, and I'll complain about it here.  There is a particular scientific thing at work here that just does not make sense to my brain.  Of course, I know just enough about biology and chemistry to get myself into intellectual trouble at times, and this consternation may simply result from the fact that I do know enough about science to get myself into trouble.  Still, the issue remains...just how in the heck is that particular plot point supposed to work?
  •'s a cliffhanger?  Yep, I'm grasping at things to complain about, but seriously - I'm not a huge fan of cliffhangers.  
I can't wait for the next one!!

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