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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
In Echo From a Bayou by J. Luke Bennecke, John Bastian, a Californian whose personal and financial life is in shambles, goes for a much-needed ski break with his friend Kevin. It ends with John in a coma, awakening with a new outlook on life and death...but not his own. Memories belonging to a Southern man named Jack Bachman take hold, including the violent murder that ended Jack's life. Visions of Jack's former life begin to overwhelm John, ultimately leading to himself and Kevin heading to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to make contact with Jack's widow, Tammy. John wrestles to balance his faith against paranormal spirituality as a real act of God gets ready to pummel the hurricane-prone region, and the bounty that Jack once chased while others chased him could very well deliver the same fate for John.
I've always been drawn to novels where intertwined plotlines explore the concept of parallel lives, but most tend to veer into past life regression. J. Luke Bennecke does an exceptional job in taking readers in an alternative direction with the dead stepping into the actual body of someone living to solve their own murder, and possibly exact revenge, in Echo From a Bayou. I loved that John was still John, that Jack was also still Jack, and that both had the kind of friend that everyone deserves as their wingman: the awesome Kevin. Bennecke shines in two areas. The first is with the element of surprise that unfolds from a mystery, and the paranormal angles that elevate both. There are more 'people' at play than John and Jack, and all of them are thoroughly developed. The second is his prose which doubles as sensory descriptions. "Perhaps I had traveled into a dimension unknown to man... Between realms. I somehow had full awareness of him and his life force." Overall, this is an excellent book and Bennecke has just roped in a devoted new fan. Very highly recommended.