Monday, April 4, 2011

Layton Green: The Summoner

In his debut indie novel, Layton Green takes the reader to Zimbabwe where the government is corrupt and a new old religion has reemerged on scene with dramatic results and even the corrupt government is wondering how much power this religion will hold..

Dominic Grey, has traveled the world but has never found a place that he truly feels is home, as his childhood was not one he would wish on anyone. He is currently station in Harare Zimbabwe with the American embassy to provide investigative support and security detail for any of the embassy members. His is summoned to an investigation when an United States diplomatic goes missing while attending a African religious ceremony. However, Grey is forbidden to do any investigation outside of the Embassy alone, therefore his is assigned two partners. Nya who is the local government liaison who Grey is not entirely sure he can trust as she seems to be hiding something from him and she does work for a very corrupt government and Victor a cult expert, whom Grey just finds odd, imposing individual but odd. Grey has never been one to play by the rules, so forbidden or not, he search takes him to places through out Zimbabwe, with and without Nya, to discover what happened to the disappearing Untied states diplomatic and what Grey finds is nothing short of disturbing, shocking and impossible.

Green does a good job of describing the different African religions from this area, though I did find myself still a little bit confused around this topic as a whole (but as long as you understand the very basics about what Green wrote you will be fin reading this book). The part when the different religions is also when the books slows down a bit as you and the characters get a quick education and understanding of the different religions. This is some what needed within the book, however, it is slow nonetheless. This is also the readers first introduction to Victor who is a professor of religious studies more specifically a religious phenomenologist with an expertise on cults. Victor is an imposing individual, but you do not really get a sense of his true "power" until later in the book. I enjoyed how Green capitalized on Victor's dark past, to makes him more than just fascinated with the Juju religion.

As I have never been to Africa therefore, I have not been to Zimbabwe, I cannot say how accurate the description of the landscapes, street and people that Green has used. However, I could picture myself there when I was reading the book, and everything that Green introduces about Zimbabwe seemed realistic to me and not improbable. With an intelligent and sometimes witty writing style, that moves smoothly through out the book, Green is definitely able to capture a reader and with a plot that keeps the reader guessing, and full of suspense I don't think that readers today can ask for more.

Grey is a strong character, who have a black past and is always just searching for a place that he can call home. He does not like authority and wants to do anything he can to get the job done, and he is not above saying F*** You to the management if he believes he is doing what is right, especially if it is saving the helpless. I also liked that he had trained in a different form of marshal arts while living in Japan when her was younger. Green does a good job of showing how Grey's past has made him into the Man that he is now. 

Green explores the psychological affects that religions can have/use on their followers, in this case the use of fear.  At times reminded me of the witch hunt where individuals were willing to watch innocent individuals being murdered right before them and praising "God" the whole time. I think that Green explores this unique experience extremely well and it was a new subject for me to read about, which is why I enjoyed it that much more. Green also explores the psychological idea of the Mob mentality, where a Mob acts as one and an individuality is lost. This is where what an individual would see as bad in a normal occurrence, does not have the same thoughts while part of a Mob, they have lost their identity, the Mob is now their identity.

Green keeps you guessing as to who the N'anga is  and who works for him. The N'anga is a very sinister individual,who Green did a great job of keeping the N'anga mysterious and only revealing information about him that the characters in the book are able to find out. This book is all about Suspense and keeping the reader and the characters on their toes. As Zimbabwe is a very corrupt political scene within the novel, Grey and Nya are unsure who they can, even each other comes in to question especially Nya as she works for for people who are not to be trusted. Zimbabwe has been corrupted by money and power, therefore, individuals will do anything to achieve them.

Okay the cover may not be that great (okay it really needs to be improved), but the book speaks for itself once you read it. I look forward to Greens next novel and the exploration of different religions from around the world, and how they have been corrupted into something that may or may not have been intended. Anyone looking for a Psychological Mystery Thriller and a New (and I think upcoming) author then this book is for you.


Note: There are some gruesome aspects within this novel. If you are unable to read about animal sacrifice, torture or a child abuse, (though it is a slight amount of this last topic) then this book is not for you. The events are not overly descriptive in each of these aspects, but I still think that some individuals may have a problem with them.

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