Chasing the Devil's Breath

A Suspense / Thriller / Mystery

Fiction - Suspense
252 Pages
Reviewed on 02/14/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

It's not often you pick up a mystery/thriller as full of suspense, romance, and even humor as Chasing the Devil's Breath. George R. Hopkins has woven them all together very neatly in this almost impossible to put down novel, and it works!

From the ominous beginning where retired policeman, Tom Cavanaugh, now turned P.I., discovers a dead blackbird on top of his jeep, to the rather gory ending where a whole pile of bloodied dead bodies lie sprawled around a warehouse, the pace never slackens. Tom and eventually his wife, who insists on accompanying him to Colombia on a job in the hopes their trip might be a honeymoon, find themselves on beaches where jaguars roam the jungle, poisonous snakes slither down trees, and even more dangerously, murderers murder and maniacs plot to bring down the world using a mind-altering, deadly drug called Devil's Breath. Is Devil's Breath an urban legend or real? Search it on Google. You might be surprised what you find.

Adding to the enjoyment of Chasing the Devil's Breath is the romantic angle of this thriller. Once in Colombia, Tom is reunited with his brother, now a priest, but formerly in love with the beautiful Maria. Maria has asked for Jack's help in locating her brother. When Maria is shot, Jack is hell-bent on finding her assassin, not just for her sake, but also for a clever, street-smart and orphaned youngster, Chico. Chico proves indispensable to both Jack and Tom. At the same time, the tender exchanges of emotion and information between Jack and Chico provide welcome relief to the mounting tension in the novel.

A lot of action takes place in Chasing the Devil's Breath as the setting skips back and forth between Staten Island and Mompox, Colombia, but the reader doesn't get lost between the switching venues and multitude of characters. Plenty of white space in the layout of the book keeps eyes from getting tired as readers will want to keep going non-stop to find out how it all works out in the end. Dialogue is plentiful; description is colorful; and characters are believable and likeable. Enjoy! I certainly did.

Jack Magnus

Chasing the Devil's Breath is an international thriller written by George R. Hopkins. Retired New York City Police Detective Tom Cavanaugh was setting off to work on his first day as a private investigator, but the dead blackbird lying on his jeep when he left his house that morning did not exactly seem a harbinger of good tidings. He didn't want his wife, Fran, to be upset on seeing the dead bird, so he wrapped it in his handkerchief and stored it in the jeep's back seat for later disposal. Since the birth of his son, Cavanaugh found himself increasingly aware of the death and violence that was ever-present -- even in the nursery rhymes he had grown up with.

His new offices were a work in progress; the premises had been a mom and pop donut shop which folded under local competition, and their menus still graced the walls. Cavanaugh was fifteen minutes early for his first client's appointment; however, the two women were waiting for him as he drove up. One was an elderly woman whose clothing was obviously suited to one much younger and whose makeup was thickly smeared on and caked. Her daughter seemed a bit more put-together, but was obviously deferential to her mother. They wanted Cavanaugh to locate a missing person, the blonde's son and elder woman's grandson, but they didn't want the police concerned. When he asked how they got his name, the pieces started falling into place. Fran's father, Ralph Muscatelli, had been a notorious mob capo whom Cavanaugh's brother, Jack Bennis, had assassinated. Fran's cousin was the blonde sitting there before him, and the late Ralph's sister, the mother who stared at him with a cold, unflinching gaze.

George R. Hopkins' action-packed mystery/thriller, Chasing the Devil's Breath, follows Tom Cavanaugh as he takes on his first case as a private investigator. I've long been a fan of Hopkins' mystery/thriller series featuring Cavanaugh and his former black ops/now Jesuit priest brother, Jack Bennis, so I was delighted to discover this new title featuring the brothers. I enjoyed the international settings Hopkins uses in Chasing the Devil's Breath and was especially intrigued by the ancient tunnels the orphan, Chico, uses as an erstwhile home/hideout. Armchair adventurer-sleuths will have a field day reading this mystery/thriller as the two brothers find their activities merge in a most unsettling way. I'm looking forward to the next novel featuring Tom Cavanaugh and Father Bennis. Each story so far has been first-rate. Chasing the Devil's Breath is most highly recommended.

Joel R. Dennstedt

Although one initially suspects that Chasing The Devil’s Breath by George R. Hopkins might really be two thriller books in one, the patient reader soon discovers what he feels actually to be true: the Priest and the Detective have intertwined agendas requiring coincidentally shared survival skills, strength, and wit, and both find these traits heavily called upon when responding to some interesting female needs. Jack Bennis is the priest. Thomas Cavanaugh is the detective. Maria Isabelle is the Latina who twines their two agendas, though she is not the only character to do so. Drugs provide a focal point as well. A new drug, in particular, that turns its victims into zombie-like opportunities for hypnotic exploitation. Whew. As if that were not enough, murder and spice and everything not nice are also included in the plot. Oh yes, and one dead bird prophesying doom.

As Chasing The Devil’s Breath accelerates its action into the cities and jungles of Colombia, the various sources of danger offered up by George R. Hopkins include a Shakespeare-quoting, major drug-cartel kingpin and the whiff of jaguars, boa constrictors, prostitutes and enough gunmen to man an army. Needless to say, this is a book meant to thrill and entertain, with enough of both ingredients to fill – as already mentioned – two books in this highly popular genre. Hopkins handles his requirements well, economizing on his descriptive phrases with lean, fast moving scenes accompanied by uncomplicated scenery. We are left with highly motivated people moving quickly to resolve the conflicts alluded to in the beginning. Needless to say, danger and violence abound, leading one on a fast train to disaster.

Natasha Jackson

Chasing the Devil’s Breath is a thrilling mystery about a genetically altered drug, Devil’s Breath, and the impact it can and will have on the world. Sounds like pretty serious stuff, right? Well, it is and George R. Hopkins has done a fantastic job in weaving this story together. A small town in Colombia is the epicenter of this tale, where a mysterious man is making Devil’s Breath, but we don’t know his real purpose or his motivation. We will find out, but not before Father Bennis, Tom Cavanaugh, and Happy find themselves in the middle of the mystery that could cost them all their lives.

George R. Hopkins presents a beautifully written thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page with the dead bird all the way to the last. The fast paced dialogues make sure there’s never a moment of boredom and the mystery itself is an ever-winding puzzle that you’ll think you have solved at every turn. There’s so much about Chasing the Devil’s Breath to get into, but I don’t want to give away anything that might clue you into the details of the mystery! But I will say that there’s a bit of a love story going on with Jack and Maria that pretty much book ends this tale. I haven’t read a really good thriller in a long time and this work by Hopkins has renewed my love for the genre. Give me a gritty, down to earth detective and I will join him to solve any and all mysteries.

Robert von Doussa

Chasing The Devil’s Breath is undoubtedly Hopkins best thriller/mystery to date. Brothers, Fr Jack Bennis, a Jesuit Priest, who had commando training before entering the Priesthood was an accomplished survivor in jungle warfare and Jack’s brother Tom Cavanaugh, a Private Investigator, commissioned by two women to find the son and brother of Salvatore Anthony Russo. Both brothers meet in Mompox, Colombia but for different reasons, Fr Bennis at the request of a friend, Maria Isabella and Cavanagh because of a phone call from an orphaned boy named Chico who tells Cavanaugh his brother is in trouble. Chico befriends Fr Bennis after Bennis has shot and killed the man who had killed his mother and father. Unfortunately Maria is also shot as she tries to board the ferry to Bogata. Bennis is aware that a man known as El Apredido, “The Learned One” is producing the “Devil’s Breath” and confronts him in an effort to stop him producing the drug. Assassins endeavour to eliminate Jack but Chico takes Fr Bennis into subterranean tunnels of the of the ancient Musica people to keep him safe. Maria’s brother, who is head if a major drug cartel in Bogata comes to take his sister, Maria to better hospital facilities. At the same time he kills El Apredido to eliminate competition in producing the “Devil’s Breath”. The end comes in NewYork with Salvatore Anthony Russo, his mother and sister, Cavanagh and Fr Bennis in the one room. There I will conclude my review of this thriller as I don’t wish to give away the exiting conclusion.