Unquiet Ghosts (Glenn Meade) – Review

4 stars

~ About the Book ~

Eight years ago, her husband and children were killed in a plane crash. Now, new evidence reveals that they didn’t die—her husband deliberately vanished—and that he knows a secret the powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep hidden.

Kathy Kelly’s world was shattered when a plane carrying her husband—an Iraq War veteran and devoted father—and her two children vanished from the sky one night. No trace of the plane was ever found.

Eight years later, Kathy has struggled to rebuild her life, but then wreckage of his plane is found in the wilderness of Great Smoky Mountain National Park—hundreds of miles from where her husband’s plane should have been. The pilot perished in the crash, but there is no sign of Jack or the children. Could they have made it out alive after all? But if so, where have they been all this time? Where are they now?

As Kathy searches for any clue about what happened to her family, the investigation uncovers some unsettling clues—including a briefcase containing millions of dollars in cash, a priceless mask stolen from an Iraqi museum, and a clue that links Jack’s disappearance with the suspicious death of Kathy’s mother years ago.

But she soon learns that others have been looking for the wreckage and its occupants for a long time. Others who are determined to make sure she never finds her family and that they remain dead. Shadowy, powerful people who will kill for what was on board—a secret her husband was the keeper of. A secret so powerful it will open a Pandora’s box of bloody revenge—one that reaches back into the past and into the highest echelons of wealth and power, all the way to the White House.

This breathless, pulse-pounding thriller examines the very real billions in cash and priceless artifacts that vanished into the pockets of powerful American men during the Iraq war, and examines the extreme lengths some people will go to protect the secrets of what really happened to all that money.

~ Excerpt ~

I always imagined that death in a plane crash would come instantly if the aircraft exploded in midair. But I could never cease contemplating the stark terror they would have felt if the aircraft was still intact as it sank through bubbling storm clouds, buffeted by extreme turbulence—their panic a living thing, death looking them in the face as they plunged toward the ground.
I shuddered every time I visualized that image. Sometimes I cried with despair—my beautiful daughter and son and husband having to endure the crushing, chaotic fear as their aircraft plummeted to earth. It broke my heart, shredded by soul to pieces.
And after their deaths, the hardness of my own heart truly frightened me. I no longer cared about the suffering of others. Music that had once stirred my heart no longer moved me. I became numb, unaffected. The loss of a child at any stage of life is so unnatural, so wrong, that purpose seems difficult to reclaim. But the loss of two children and my husband was a devastation I never believed I would recover from. I kept expecting to wake up and discover it was all some cruel joke and that everything was OK. But it wasn’t.
You learn a lot when you lose someone you love. You learn even more when you lose your entire family. I learned that to come through the trials my husband had come through in Iraq, to get past losing friends and comrades in battle, he must have had incredible strength and fortitude.
I had neither.
I crumbled.
Haunted by absence, I used to visit the cemetery at all hours of day and night, lying down on the ground beside the graves. I would stretch myself out on the cold earth and feel it seep into my bones as it must have seeped into theirs, wherever they lay. For such a long time, my heart felt as brittle as charcoal, my soul as gouged as the earth covering the fresh graves of this burial ground.
Twice I actually thought I saw Jack in the woods behind our house, where he used to stroll and play with our children. I ran out, calling his name, following the mystery figure deep into the woods, but there was no one there.
People who knew me then must have thought I was crazy. And for a time I was. My doctor recommended antianxiety medication. I rejected the prescription. I wanted to feel the pain. It was all I had, all that allowed me to recall the happiness of my past life.
And now, though my dreams still reclaimed me briefly, especially on anniversaries, they came less often.
I miss you, Jack. I miss you, Amy and Sean.
I would always miss them.
Standing there, lost in the limbo between the present and the past, I heard a noise behind me and turned. I never imagined who would be standing there, not for a second, and it sent a shock through me like a bolt of lightning…

~ Review ~

Write this down if you want, and never let anyone tell you otherwise: Love has a price. There never can be—never will be and never has been—a single love that comes without agony.

Another thing I’ve learned: Sometimes those we worship harbor unimaginable secrets.

Glenn Meade’s newest thriller is a thoroughly engrossing read, and packs quite an emotional punch to boot—although, maybe that’s just because I’m a female reader (and a wife and mother)! Kathy Kelly’s life has already involved devastation upon devastation, but nothing could possibly prepare her for the events that unfold in these pages—events that also make a serious statement about the realities of war and the potential breeding ground it creates for greed and corruption.

Kathy is the primary narrator of the story, and her point of view is presented in the first person, which made her character particularly easy to identify with. She’s a character given to reflection—profound and intensely personal reflection, at times—and during the first third or so of the book, the details of her past devastations unfold in tandem with the present day situation. There were occasions when I felt as though she wallowed in her reflections a little, and there was some repetition that I thought should have been picked up in edits, but it was such a compelling story that my eyes were riveted to the page regardless.

As the novel progressed, it became focussed on the present day situation, where Kathy finds herself desperate for answers, constantly pulled in different directions, and unsure of where to turn and whom to trust. The tension is heightened by those times when secondary characters take the narrative reins, letting the reader in on circumstances that are as yet hidden from Kathy, but even then it was impossible to predict what would happen next or who was really what they seemed. And when it came to the final showdown? Boy, oh boy!

When the dust settles, the novel is brought full circle with some reflections from Kathy that mirror the opening of the novel. It’s a poignant ending that drives home the point that “[War] breaks us all in the end, even those of us who are mere watchers from the shore, for we are broken by the same cruel tempest that destroys the ones we love.

This is a physically and emotionally tense thriller that is well worth the read.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review.

Release Date: 11 July 2017
Pages:  432
Publisher:  Howard Books

Amazon  //  Goodreads

~ About the Author ~

glenn-meade-landscape-frameGlenn Meade was born into a working-class family in Dublin, Ireland. After finishing secondary school he had a tough time choosing between studying theology or engineering, but eventually engineering won out and he studied telecommunications. Soon after graduating, he lived and worked in New Hampshire. He worked as a specialist in the field of pilot training—having had a life-long interest in aviation—and has also been a journalist for the Irish Times and the Independent.

While living in New Hampshire, he persistently tried to interview the famously reclusive author of CATCHER IN THE RYE, J.D. Salinger, an effort that only served to vex Salinger, who set his dogs on Meade, who luckily managed to outrun Salinger’s hounds and survive.
He began writing in earnest in the late eighties, when he wrote and directed his own plays, mostly for the Strand Theatre in Dublin, but Meade decided to turn his efforts to thriller writing in the mid-nineties.

His novels to date—SNOW WOLF, BRANDENBURG, THE SANDS OF SAKKARA, RESURRECTION DAY, WEB OF DECEIT, THE DEVIL’S DISCIPLE, THE SECOND MESSIAH—have been translated into twenty-six languages, and have enjoyed critical and commercial success.

Connect with Glenn:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
Image | This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Unquiet Ghosts (Glenn Meade) – Review

  1. Pingback: Weekend Book Buzz | Fiction Aficionado

  2. This one sounds intense! Must add it to my every-growing TBR list. I wonder if my district will give an extra month off this summer to catch up on m reading?! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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