Eclipse of the Heart


Fiction - General
470 Pages
Reviewed on 05/21/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

In what may be misinterpreted as a backhanded compliment, Eclipse of the Heart by Adam Adrian Crown is so much better than it looks. The cover suggests something ethereal but sinister, the blurb promises horse-whispering and cold-blooded vengeance, and some early comments allude to Hemingway’s tight style of writing. Oddly enough, all of this proves to be true and accurate. Still, the book itself is so much better than this might suggest. We have the life story of a man. A rough man. Tight, like the style of writing as told by this very man. And one might again misconstrue this to mean that he is simple, or not complex, or worse yet … possibly unintelligent. None of this is true.

The character created by Adam Adrian Crown to reveal a rough man’s story in Eclipse of the Heart may be concise, but he is also irresistibly complex, self-aware, deeply troubled, and good of heart. Ironic, then, that vengeance of a most violent sort, with a soundtrack punctuated by unapologetic sex, seems to be his most succinct and sincere way of proving his good heart. But this irony scratches only the surface of why this book is so much fun (perhaps satisfying is a better word.) A surprise on all levels, the story’s narration sounds like an old film noir, while the plot unfolds like Benjamin Button or Forrest Gump … only with major gunfights and beatings to change the rating. All I’m saying is that Mr. Crown has pulled a fast one. This book is a literary marvel disguised as pulp fiction. And I, for one, found it marvelous and exciting.

Viga Boland

If you’re looking for a quick, lightweight read, give Eclipse of the Heart by Adam Adrian Crown a miss. This book intrigues, tantalizes, shocks and challenges readers. Eclipse of the Heart dares you to put the book aside once you start reading. And it’s anything but a short novel. The narrator is laid back, cool. His voice has attitude i.e. “Take it or leave it. I don’t care.” It’s that very attitude that sucks you in, makes you wonder why he feels that way. What happened to him? When his story starts, its plot suggests a chilling thriller: a woman loses her entire family in a car crash thanks to a drunk driver. As usually happens, the driver gets off too easily. The mother’s need to see him suffer as she is suffering grows. She hires the narrator. He makes sure the drunken driver pays for his crime. Vigilante? Hired hit man? Is this murder for money or what?

It’s the “what” that keeps readers turning pages. Through a large series of stories we learn who the narrator is. We are invited to think about his humble, poor beginnings, the abuse he suffered, and oddly accepted at the hands of his alcoholic father till he was 13. We are taken inside the head of a highly intelligent child who loved to read and learn, who was bullied by his peers and often puzzled by the actions of the adults around him. And then we witness the turning point in his previous willingness to accept the ugliness life dishes out to those who don’t deserve it. The narrator is still only a teen when he doles out what he considers suitable punishment for evil-doers. Despite the violence, the reader doesn’t condemn him. Through his thinking and actions, the narrator is now challenging readers to look as deeply inside themselves as he is doing. The challenge is to be as honest with ourselves as he is. Could we be that truthful about everything we think and feel?

This novel is for thinkers, deep thinkers, preferably those with some education behind them as there are lots of references to books, political figures, war-time atrocities and the many, many instances of man’s inhumanity to man. If you’re not familiar with what it’s like be in the coast guard, or the police force, in prison, or even in a rock band, you’ll be enlightened. You’ll also come away shaking your head at what you suspect, but don’t want to believe about figures in authority, be it in law enforcement or business. You’ll take off the rose-tinted glasses. And you’ll come away feeling more compassionate than ever about the ordinary man who can’t get ahead for trying. Eclipse of the Heart is so raw it hurts. There’s an overwhelming sense of loneliness about the narrator and it’s little wonder he leaves us thinking, as he does, that animals are infinitely more intelligent, loveable and kind than humans are. As a novel, Eclipse of the Heart is many things, the most of important of which is brilliant!

Jamie Michele

Eclipse of the Heart by Adam Adrian Crown is the story of a narrator whose name we are never told, dishing out bits of his biography like hot pork scratchings. This is done to give the woman he loves, Marlo, who is not ever actually mentioned again in the novel, a chance to know the whole truth and decide if she wants to stay. And my gawd, what a story it is. Told in vignettes that don't appear to be in any chronological order, the narrative jumps through several hoops to reveal a violent upbringing, incest, sexual abuse, gang violence, drug abuse, murder, rape...the list goes on and on. Whatever Christmas list you'd imagine the love child of Ted Bundy and Jack the Ripper might have carved up, it's going to be pretty close to this.

There is a whole ocean of emotion that surfaced as I read Adam Adrian Crown's Eclipse of the Heart. The writing is sharp, its narrative clipped with short sentences that make big, bold statements. "Someone once said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. If that’s true then the penis is one hell of a short-cut to a man’s mind. It’s always a mistake to let someone else’s theory trump your own actual experience. I know, because that’s what I did." There isn't a definitive plot aside from this guy just airing out his laundry, but for some reason it doesn't matter. It reads like a dramatic, often suspenseful novel. As if a half American-Indian James Bond wrote a memoir. There's a lot of tentacles on this Octopussy, and they drift out all over the place, but are always connected to the heart of the story. The narrator does a lot of bad things for a lot of good reasons. It's not an easy read by any stretch, but one thing is for certain: Adam Adrian Crown is a king among indie storytellers and I'll gladly eat up whatever he's got to serve next.

Romuald Dzemo

Eclipse of the Heart by Adam Adrian Crown is a riveting read, an intelligently plotted novel that explores the themes of family, child abuse, poverty, injustice, and revenge; growing up in a family where the father wasn’t just irresponsible but a child abuser who molested his kids and their mother, and who never held any job for long —a laborer who worked as truck driver, mechanic, snow-plow man, etc. A child-beater who also sexually molested his step-daughter, Kay. Flynn would have his first sexual experience with his own step-sister. But as he grows up, he learns to fight back, he learns to never be the underdog. Flynn does a variety of jobs; first a garbage collector, then the Coast Guard, and a police officer. When one of his friends is raped by a gang of bikers, Flynn goes out for revenge with the help of a friend. A local judge learns about it and makes Flynn her vigilante, the man who’ll settle scores for her.

The story is told in a humorous first person narrative and it is hard not to feel for the protagonist as he narrates his experiences. There is so much in this novel for the reader to enjoy, and the characters are well developed. There are dramatic moments in the narrative, with courtroom drama and a lot of interesting and focused scenes. I enjoyed how the author creates a link between domestic abuse and the personality of the protagonist. The theme of family is well developed and it overlaps with child abuse, sexuality, and poverty. The dynamics of working as a policeman are explored, and the conflict reaches crisis point when Flynn is framed by dirty cops and jailed for a crime he never committed. Eclipse of the Heart is written in an engrossing voice and Adam Adrian Crown’s gift for humor and storytelling comes out beautifully. You won’t put this book down.

Ruffina Oserio

Eclipse of the Heart by Adam Adrian Crown is the story of Jack Flynn, a boy with an abusive childhood. Flynn grows up in a family where he is abused by his father — in fact, his father always finds ways to make someone suffer for no reason in the family. He even abuses his daughter sexually and she introduces Flynn to sex. But the young Flynn decides to fight back. He does odd jobs and finally joins the Coast Guard and the police. He goes after a gang of bikers who rape one of his friends and exacts revenge, winning the admiration of a local judge who enlists his services. But a betrayal from bad cops lands him in jail for a crime he never committed, a sentence that will take away a decade of his life. After being exonerated, can Flynn live life the way he’s always wanted? There are surprises for the reader to find out.

Eclipse of the Heart by Adam Adrian Crown is a riveting story with compelling characters, a story of trauma, hurt, and redemption — or is it revenge? It’s also a story that teaches readers the message that they can walk past abuse, take a stand and fight back, and that they can choose to define their future. And that isn’t easy. It wasn’t the plot that got me hooked to this novel, but the narrative itself. In a voice that is playful and arresting, Adam Adrian Crown transports readers into the mind of the protagonist, exploring his growth process, his psychology, and how the vigilante side of him came to be. The unique phraseology, the emotional depth of the story, and character development are top notch. Eclipse of the Heart is a great read.

Laua Souris

Eclipse of the Heart is Adam Adrian Crown's first novel. He definitely knows how to tell a good story. Though not my typical fare, I was drawn into Eclipse immediately, in spite of myself.
Eclipse is ostensibly a memoir, of sorts, written by the protagonist to reveal his past to a woman he has fallen in love with. It is more character-driven than plot driven, although two threads do pay off nicely, making this a work that lies somewhere in a no-man's-land between literary fiction and genre fiction
The protagonist, "Jack," breaks the typical hit-man/vigilante mold. He's not a cold-blooded psychopath. He's not the usual "ex-superman:" ex-Marine, ex-CIA, ex-Special Forces ex cetera, ex cetera, ex cetera. He has no superpowers. He's just a regular guy. Most killers kill because they feel no empathy; Jack kills because he feels tremendous empathy.
In true picaresque style, Eclipse of the Heart is episodic in structure. Although the chapters are inter-related, most of them could easily stand alone as short stories. Several of them would make terrific movies. Although the protagonist has moments of loquacity, the style is generally terse, taut and edgy, like a good film noir. It is replete with profanity, violence and sex - but none of it gratuitous.
"Jack's" recollections wander. They aren't precisely chronological. He gets lost, goes off on tangents, and sometimes repeats himself. The effect is the creation of a character that is extraordinarily believable, and an account that feels very much like reading his uncensored, unedited diary. More than once I had to remind myself that this was a work of fiction.
The author does not tie up all the loose ends at the conclusion, and leaves an important question unanswered, left for us to contemplate. Maybe there's a sequel in the offing.
From moment to moment, Eclipse of the Heart is in turn poignant, funny, disturbing, gentle, violent, ugly and beautiful. It is a powerful and compelling read.

Warren Russell

I enjoyed Eclipse of the Heart the first novel by Adam Adrian Crown .
It has diverse and interesting characters . The plot has twist and turns . It' easy to hate and love the characters due to the layers in personalities , backgrounds and life experience. I enjoyed the gymnastic metaphors throughout . The underlying subplot of gladiator , assassin , combined with Don Juan.
Mr. Crown has developed some complex interesting conflicts intertwining through these pages . This novel is good reading for both men and ladies. I look forward to see how and if more adventure awaits in the future.

KS (Amazon)

In Eclipse of the Heart, master storyteller, Adam Adrian Crown, weaves a gritty tale centered on the confessions and musings of his protagonist, Jack, to the woman he loves. Written in an engaging style, I couldn't stop turning the pages until it was finished. This book will take you through a gamut of emotions and leave you wanting more.

While not a novel for the faint of heart, Crown uses his character to explore personal and social situations and conflicts familiar to many of us. And I think if we are honest, we might even see some part of Jack in ourselves.

Black R. (Amazon)

One wild ride of a story and in today's world it will take you up and down a roller coaster ride and places you could just find your self in the same wild world we live in today. Chapter by chapter it made you want to find just who this wild man really is lurking out and where he will take you next.
Enjoyed every bit of it.

Rainbow Meadows

Hang onto your hat as you begin a rough and tumble ride on the most wicked roller coaster labeled as "fiction". Eclipse of the Heart will cause you to grimace in disgust and cheer with unbridled glee. In the end, it will leave you with a knot of sadness in your gut!

Stephanie Yager

Truth or fiction Eclipse of the Heart was very entertaining reading. I thought With all its twists and turns it blended very well.

(Amazon Customer)


The title should not be confused with the Jim Steinman opus Total Eclipse of the Heart made famous by Bonnie Tyler. Steinman’s song is rich with over orchestration, pleading laments and a back beat heard at many a wedding these past 30 years. Crown’s prose is short, direct, and pointed. Think Shell Scott rather than Sherlock Holmes, Hemingway rather than Anne Rice.

Flynn grows up in a multi ethnic family where few of the children look like dad. Dad is an abuser, both physical and sexual, a drunk, a thief and incapable of holding a job. He has none of the survival charm of Frank, the pater familias in Shameless. He looks for reasons to beat his children. When they do nothing to warrant his attention, he invents reasons to vent his rage on someone smaller and less powerful. He sexually abuses his daughter who seems to be about 6 years older than Flynn. She in turn introduces her brother to varieties of sex she probably learned from her father. He is grateful for the experience, she not so much for the knowledge.

The setting is a small working class Midwestern town familiar to many who came of age during the 60’s. Mom works hard to keep the family together and fed. Back then if police were called to a home on a report of domestic violence they separated the couple by bringing mom and the kids to relatives where sobriety might be regained after a night’s sleep, if only for a few hours. Dad probably wouldn’t remember anything the next day. Teachers at the local high school were either Fascist or humanitarian. The former demanded Flynn get a haircut, the latter he be creative. He chose the latter as he was befriended by a teacher who treated him as an equal.

The abuse stopped when Flynn got big enough to fight back. The bully was confronted and reminded that youth and strength can negate rage and abuse, if only for a little while as the victim found a respite, safe only as he was awake.

He worked a variety of jobs from garbage collector to Coast Guard to police officer to vigilante. A friend was raped by a biker gang. Flynn enlisted a hesitant friend to get revenge. The friend proved to be of little use while Flynn unleashed the dogs of war on the biker’s. A local judge found his behavior refreshing and enlisted him to be her avenger in the years to come. She would periodically appear to seek his help to right justice that was wrong.

There are a few sex scenes in the book, both gay and straight. It’s refreshing to see sex portrayed as playful and experimental and not just tawdry.

He was set up by crooked cops as a police officer and spent a decade in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He did commit other crimes for which he wasn’t charged. A young lawyer seeking to make her reputation took his case and he was exonerated. The financial settlement meant he would never have to work again. He could always pay for the free lunch. Still he did, as the judge would ask him once again to right injustice. Revenge was seldom cold.

Eventually Flynn learns secrets about his parents that make them more than the caricatures of victim and abuser. Everyone has a past.

The scene where Flynn is introduced to sex by his sister is incongruous with the one where the sister looked at him with scorn as he watches her being abused by their father. He was only seven however and did what he needed to survive.

In the intro Mr. Crown talks of writing the book for Marlo, so she would know his life and choose to either stay or run as fast as she can. She is not mentioned later and her absence is puzzling. Why dedicate to someone who plays no part in the play? I would have liked to know her story.

Horses as a theme for freedom appear reminding us the cover art is there for a reason.

I read the book twice. It is a quick read and worth the effort. Characters, setting and events are all too familiar. It ends with Flynn performing an act of mercy while finding new information about his father. Everyone deals with trauma in different ways. His father chose to abuse, he to revenge. Darth Vader used manipulation to try to get Luke’s support. Flynn listened to the angel.

Laura Souris

Eclipse of the Heart is Adam Adrian Crown's first novel. He definitely knows how to tell a good story. Though not my typical fare, I was drawn into Eclipse immediately, in spite of myself.
Eclipse is ostensibly a memoir, of sorts, written by the protagonist to reveal his past to a woman he has fallen in love with. It is more character-driven than plot driven, although two threads do pay off nicely, making this a work that lies somewhere in a no-man's-land between literary fiction and genre fiction
The protagonist, "Jack," breaks the typical hit-man/vigilante mold. He's not a cold-blooded psychopath. He's not the usual "ex-superman:" ex-Marine, ex-CIA, ex-Special Forces ex cetera, ex cetera, ex cetera. He has no superpowers. He's just a regular guy. Most killers kill because they feel no empathy; Jack kills because he feels tremendous empathy.
In true picaresque style, Eclipse of the Heart is episodic in structure. Although the chapters are inter-related, most of them could easily stand alone as short stories. Several of them would make terrific movies. Although the protagonist has moments of loquacity, the style is generally terse, taut and edgy, like a good film noir. It is replete with profanity, violence and sex - but none of it gratuitous.
"Jack's" recollections wander. They aren't precisely chronological. He gets lost, goes off on tangents, and sometimes repeats himself. The effect is the creation of a character that is extraordinarily believable, and an account that feels very much like reading his uncensored, unedited diary. More than once I had to remind myself that this was a work of fiction.
The author does not tie up all the loose ends at the conclusion, and leaves an important question unanswered, left for us to contemplate. Maybe there's a sequel in the offing.
From moment to moment, Eclipse of the Heart is in turn poignant, funny, disturbing, gentle, violent, ugly and beautiful. It is a powerful and compelling read.