You better hold on to the debut novel written by Alan L. Lee and published by Forge Books with both hands, because Sandstorm is startling and fast paced. From the first page to the very last, the action never stops and the unexpected twists never quite seem to straighten out.
Nora Mossa finds herself running for her life after receiving a package of puzzling information from a friend who happens to be a fellow operative of the CIA. Well, her friend “was” with the CIA until she was brutally murdered. After going into hiding, Nora turns to ex-CIA agent Alex Koves for help. The two shared a romantic past filled with tragedy, and now they will rely on each other again – if there is to be a future. As the clues pile up and the international corruption unfolds, knowing you can trust and who you can’t will mean the difference between life and death.
There are two major points that pushes this book to stand out from the plethora of action novels on the market today; a complex and believable plot and a distinct focus on character development. Though this is the basic crux of any good fiction and you’d think essential to success, these are also two traits in literature that new authors seem to have all but forgotten lately. Even some of the more established authors have let this slip away to rely on marketing and past sales to get them by. But this does not falter Lee. Sandstorm is a literal clinic on how the genre should be done.
As a talented broadcast journalist who anchors the morning news for FOX Broadcasting in Detroit, Lee has an obvious inside track on what makes this world tick. Well versed in the political climate and an eye for detail, this story could be pulled directly from today’s headlines. Lee’s insightfulness thrusts the reader is right past the “what-if” prospect of the plot and slapped with the frighteningly “when will this happen” scenario.
Archetypical characters often inhibit good storylines, persuading many readers to instinctively link them to previous works. We are not going to care about characters if too many have already been there, done that. Lee has apparently taken this aspect to note. At first glance, the characters in Sandstorm might be familiar or overdone like unbeatable heroes, terrorists from the Middle East or our own government officials who have gone bad. But Lee has allowed every character in Sandstorm to shine with his or her own individual stories. This method not only brings the element of believability to the characters, it also draws the reader into a relationship with the characters. In a story where the morality of the good guys and is blurred, character motivation is essential. We may not like what some people do, but we see what motivates them.
From believable characters to an intense, action packed story, Sandstorm by Alan L. Lee is a debut novel that reads more like the product of a veteran author. The book’s tidy conclusion leaves just enough open in the end to give the reader hope that more thrills may follow. Welcome to the book shelves Mr. Lee, you’ve bypassed rookie status and jumped right into the big leagues.