Marco Polo

Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 08/29/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Marco Polo by Jeff Heckler is a psychological thriller with a plot that will keep you hooked until the end. Wendell Lee was a war hero. Serving his country was good, but Wendell left his life in the military and became a lawyer, hoping it would change things for his family. However, the damage was done, and alcoholism didn’t help his case. But when his daughter was kidnapped, Wendell knew he had to do everything he could to get her back home safely. Enlisting the help of Dekker O’Shea, Wendell was ready to go to the ends of the earth to get his daughter back. However, nothing could have prepared him for the journey ahead, where he would battle his biggest demons, face racism unlike ever before, and still power through it all to get Izzy back home.

Marco Polo is set in the 1940s and is a complex ride filled with emotions and action. Wendell Lee reminded me of characters by Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. He was flawed and made mistakes, but he was just a simple man. Jeff Heckler did a great job of making sure Wendell made an impression on readers' hearts. I instantly felt a connection with Wendell. He knew he wasn’t perfect and did his best to do something good for his blind wife and little Izzy. Declan, a.k.a. Dekker, was the picture-perfect companion to help Wendell. Both of them struggled with alcoholism, but they understood each other’s dilemmas and became the support system they needed to escape the scary, dark world. I loved this novel and wouldn’t mind reading it again and again.

Keith Mbuya

Perhaps it was the war that had him drinking the way he did. Or perhaps it was his job as an attorney in Pittsburgh. Whatever the reason, the black former World War II veteran turned attorney, Captain Wendell Lee’s relationship with booze kept getting more intense. After almost losing his job and family, Lee successfully overcame his alcoholism. Or so it seemed. Just when he had his life back on track, all hell broke loose. His daughter was kidnapped by unknown men and he found himself working with Declan O’Shea, a war veteran and drunkard turned private investigator. With the enemy edging closer than they thought, they were in a town rife with racism, constantly confronted by the skeletons in their closets. Get yourself Jeff Heckler’s Marco Polo to discover how Wendell and Declan’s mission goes down.

Lovers of psychological thrillers based on a tale of vengeance, guilt, redemption, love, murder, abduction, and prison life will not get enough of Jeff Heckler’s Marco Polo. Weaving an intriguing plot, Jeff features a diverse group of inmates, goons, attorneys, pedophiles, abductors, and sleuths. The subtle tone of the storyline and the enthralling plot twists kept me hooked, flipping through page after page. Just when I thought I had figured out where the story was headed, I would be pleasantly surprised by an unanticipated diversion. Coupled with the vivid descriptions, this made the reading experience feel as if I was watching a movie. The author contrasts the complex characteristics of the role-players, giving them an authenticity and allowing me to connect with them. Highly recommended.

Angelique Papayannopoulos

Marco Polo…. A game where a chosen person is ‘Marco’ who, with closed eyes, tries to find other players, relying on hearing to find them. The player shouts 'Marco’, and the others must all respond by calling ‘Polo.’ Jeff Heckler’s Marco Polo is a crime thriller set during the end of and post-WWII. The plot involves a young girl who is abducted by a serial killer pedophile as an act of revenge on her father. The protagonists, Wendell Lee, a defense attorney, and Declan Dekka, a private detective, are from entirely different backgrounds. Their paths cross in 1950, and they team up to rescue Wendell's young daughter from the claws of a sadistic pedophile. The main antagonist is Richard Massengale, a depraved child molester from a high-profile family who hires a hardcore ex-convict and murderer named Candy to assist him in his deviant plan of vengeance.

Jeff Heckler delves into meticulous details of each of the main characters’ personalities, thus making them plausible and convincing. Though there is a somewhat slow but curious start to this novel, the story steadily unfolds into a bizarre ride of unexpected and surprising turns, building up to an intense and suspenseful climax to rescue the young girl in time. The foreboding and sinister behavior of the antagonist creates a gripping chain of events with many twists. The reader quickly becomes engaged in this buildup of urgency and danger. Vital issues of revenge, justice, forgiveness, overcoming hardships, and sobriety are apparent themes throughout the plot. This book will appeal to readers who enjoy crime and sleuth types of murder and serial killer stories.

Alma Boucher

Marco Polo by Jeff Heckler is a psychological thriller. After the war, Private Declan “Dekker” O’Shea could not cope with his work as a police officer and quit. Dekker felt that being a private investigator would be the perfect job for him. Dekker could read people and knew when they lied. The army had given him the skills to handle endless boredom. A private investigator is always waiting for something or someone. Captain Wendell Lee fought alcoholism and the harm it had done to his family and his life. Wendell was in a race against time to save his kidnapped daughter. With the help of private investigator Dekker, he was searching for his daughter, but they were confronted with racism, pedophilia, and unexpected betrayals.

Marco Polo by Jeff Heckler is complex and exciting. It was a roller coaster ride that included alcoholism and kidnapping. I was intrigued from the first page, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. The story was fast-paced and I could not turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next. With all the unexpected twists and turns, I could never predict what would transpire. The characters were well-developed and robust. My favorite character was Wendell Lee. He took his father’s advice to heart and became a better man than the person he had to beat. The story is brilliantly written, and sensitive topics like racism and alcoholism were handled with empathy. The book was not what I had anticipated and exceeded my expectations by far.

K.C. Finn

Marco Polo is a work of fiction in the psychological thriller, suspense, action, and adventure subgenres. It is best suited to mature adult readers owing to the use of explicit language throughout as well as scenes of sex and violence. Penned by author Jeff Heckler, the work is set in 1940s Pittsburgh. Captain Wendell Lee, a dashing African American war hero turned attorney, battles alcoholism while desperately trying to rescue his kidnapped daughter. With the help of hard-drinking private investigator Declan "Dekker" O'Shea, they delve into the chilling underbelly of a city entangled in racism, addiction, pedophilia, suicide, murder, and shocking betrayals. This relentless journey takes them on a gripping and suspenseful ride as they confront the darkness within and around them to save what Wendell holds dear.

Author Jeff Heckler weaves together a complex web of psychological tension, moral dilemmas, and dark secrets. The well-researched and highly descriptive scene-setting of 1940s Pittsburgh adds an atmospheric and evocative backdrop to the story, setting the stage for the intense and often harrowing events that unfold. One of the features which I found most impressive about this read was its commitment to character development. Wendell Lee is a compelling protagonist, flawed and haunted by his past, yet determined to do whatever it takes to save his daughter. His partnership with Dekker adds an interesting dynamic to the narrative, bringing out the best in one another. The themes explored were both powerful and thought-provoking, tackling issues of racism, addiction, and betrayal without over-sensationalizing them but making them emotionally relevant and impactful all the same. Overall, Marco Polo is a gripping and intense psychological thriller that delves into the dark underbelly of a city and the complexities of human nature.