Poison Heartbeats

Poison Heartbeats

A Novel

Fiction - Thriller - Terrorist
306 Pages
Reviewed on 09/28/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Temple is a journalist nominated twice for a Pulitzer, an author, a publisher, and a former editor of The Reader’s Digest. He writes both non-fiction and fiction with humor and the quick, sharp punch of journalistic truth.

Poison Heartbeats is a love story, a war-torn romance, written like a thriller. It follows the life of a girl born in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation, before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The girl becomes a U.S. citizen because a CIA operative brings her to America and adopts her. She becomes Holly Smolkes, a beautiful but seriously flawed woman. She falls in love with the director of Homeland Security’s “Poison Well” unit, a group designed to stop terrorists who want to poison the water supply of the United States.

Holly Smolkes has a twin brother, left behind in Afghanistan when she was eight years old. He has become a leader of the terrorists.

This book was the winner of the Thriller category at the Next Generation Book Awards at the Harvard Club in New York City. It has an IndieBRAG Medallion and Awesome Indies approval.

Poison Heartbeats is a love story, a war-torn romance, written like a thriller. It follows the life of a girl born in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation, before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Poison Heartbeats received Awesome Indies approval and the indieBRAG medallion. It was chosen as the Best Thriller at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, which included a cash award.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

Poison Heartbeats by Temple Emmet Williams is a very real-to-life story of terrorism. ISIL wants to poison the water network in America and their target is the Jackson River, located in Northwest Virginia. If they succeed in their mission, they will have the blood of thousands on their hands and millions more will never be able to trust a simple glass of water ever again. Abira and Ahmed Khan are twins, born in Afghanistan and separated through war. Ahmed becomes a Holy Warrior of ISIL while Abira becomes Holly Smolkes, a beautiful girl who happens to fall head over heels in love with the Director of the Poison Well unit in Homeland Security. Life is about to become difficult as the twins go head to head in the battle for survival, but who will triumph over all others?

Poison Heartbeats by Temple Emmet Williams blew me away. It is the second story in the Heartbeats series and is, without any doubt, one of the best books I have ever read. It made me want to read the first one and I am definitely looking forward to the third when it comes out. The story started almost like a history lesson, a fascinating one that had an awful lot of bearing on the story. There is a lot of this throughout the book, background that is essential to understanding what is going on – without it, the story would still be there but, in my opinion, not so good. The plot is clever, very real to life, given current world events, and is something that we should all fear could happen at any time. The character development was excellent, leaving you with the impression of having known them. The way the story is written, you can see it playing out, you can almost smell and feel everything that happens. To me, that is the mark of a top-class author, being able to pull a reader into a story in such a way that they end the book shaken, feeling as though they had lived every minute of it. Fantastic book, excellent story, I'm really looking forward to more from Mr. Williams.

Christian Sia

A book with monumental characters and a daring plot, Poison Heartbeats is another compelling installment in the Heartbeats series by Temple Emmet Williams. With an international setting, featuring powerful historical, cultural, and religious elements, this book is about one of the realities that everyone dreads: terrorism. The author carefully steps away from the mainstream pattern of featuring terrorism as a phenomenon involving guns and bombs. This time, the threat is against the one vital element that everyone needs for survival: clean and potable water. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has conceived a plan to plunge the US into a state of terror by poisoning its waters, starting with the northwestern Virginia’s Jackson River. But who are the key players in this deadly game and how can they be stopped?

Readers are introduced to twins born in war-torn Nuristan, Afghanistan, a boy and a girl, and their response to their first-hand experience of war becomes one of the key elements that drive the plot. While one joins the jihadists and fights fanatically for a jihadist cause that can pose great danger to millions of people, the other, the girl, ends up falling in love with a very important person in the US Security Department. There are many twists and surprises in this story and the title aptly describes the experience that many readers will have while reading. Temple Emmet Williams writes beautifully and offers powerful political commentaries and excellently explores the psychology of a fanatic. Poison Heartbeats is a hard-to-put down story that is as believable as it’s unsettling. It’s hard not to think about it happening in some corner of the world.

Divine Zape

Poison Heartbeats by Temple Emmet Williams is the second novel in the Heartbeats series, a surprisingly compelling work that features terrorism and the insanity that accompanies it with a clarity that is quite forensic. And readers get acquainted with very compelling characters as well. The Islamic organization ISIL, synonymous with ISIS, is about to unleash terror in a form never imagined before. This time, it is not about suicide bombers, but a systematic poisoning of the wells in the US, and the target is the Jackson River in northwestern Virginia. If they succeed, many will die from touching or drinking the water. What could follow is undeniably clear: paranoia, panic, and fear. Who can stop them?

There is something very moving and intimate about this book that one finds it hard to read without feeling a hastened heartbeat or goosebumps. The setting is international and the story offers glimpses of some part of Afghanistan ravaged by war. Now, it is interesting to watch a pair of twins living two diametrically opposing lifestyles: a terrorist warrior and an American girl who falls in love with a very important person in the Security Sector. How their destinies intersect is a riddle the author allows readers to mull over.

Poison Heartbeats deals with themes that are current and crucial, and it comes across as a powerful warning to the threat that fanaticism can pose to society. Globally, there is an outcry of war against terrorism, and this book carries a message that will create a sense of awareness in many readers. Temple Emmet Williams is a great storyteller and he has the gift of making readers get lost in the trail of his characters and the twists in his plot. One of the best books I have read on terrorism.

Ruffina Oserio

What if the water that supports the lives of millions of people in the US was poisoned? How would it feel to know that water isn’t safe to drink anymore? How would people react? And what does the destiny of a pair of twin kids from Afghanistan have to do with all this? Such are questions that people hardly think about, but since 9/11 people have thought about terrorism and security has doubled in malls and many public places. But the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant plans to strike the United States, and this time, no one will know where or how the attack will come about. Their plan is very simple: to poison the Jackson River. The jihadists are most certain of claiming as many lives as possible and putting the rest of the US into a state of panic. Who can stop them? Poison Heartbeats by Temple Emmet Williams is a thriller that will keep readers turning the pages, nonstop!

Temple Emmet Williams paints a very grim and powerful political and religious landscape in this new installment in the Heartbeats series, a story that features characters as memorable as they are interesting to watch. The author makes brilliant use of suspense by offering compelling subplots with the lives of the twin kids from Afghanistan whose destinies will blow the minds of readers. The writing is tight, laced with descriptions of the general climate of war in Afghanistan, and reflections on politics and the fanatical side of religion. The plot couldn’t be enhanced any more; fast-paced and complex, with very interesting characters. Poison Heartbeats is a wonderful read for lovers of thrillers and crime fiction. Great writing, great plot, great characters.

Katelyn Hensel

Poison Heartbeats by Temple Emmet Williams is electric action from beginning to end. Following twins Holly Smokes and Ahmed Kahn, it explores the different aspects of lives torn apart by war. One is adopted into an American family, the other becomes a high-ranking official in a terrorist organization. How their lives play out is at times tragic, tense, and deeply unsettling.

The writing style was interesting. It felt at times as though I were reading a newspaper report on events or perhaps a military briefing. Then at different moments the point of view would transition so that it felt closer to the characters and pulled more of their emotions into the story. While this feeling was a little choppy, it sort of worked as you transitioned from mainland USA to the war torn Middle East and back again. I also enjoyed the look at the twins and how they grew. This novel is definitely an argument for nurture versus nature.

An interesting and timely book, Poison Heartbeats allows us a peek into the conflicts of the Middle East from the vantage of fiction, allowing us to both empathize more with the situation while keeping us safe from any real-world conflict. I admit, I thought that ISIL and ISIS were the same organization. Temple Emmet Williams does a good job distinguishing between the two and describing the threat that they represent in very realistic ways. It was very clear that a lot of research and thought went into this book, making it that much more tense and thrilling for the reader.