Fiction - Intrigue
384 Pages
Reviewed on 05/15/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite

We meet a seventy-eight-year-old woman named Edna O’Hare in Shadows by Peter J. Manos. Her husband, James Hashimoto, died almost a year ago. He was born in Hiroshima and was only two years old when the bomb went off. Edna has nightmares about nuclear war, and the only way to stop them was to do something brave and honor her late husband’s legacy. She has to educate the public about the missiles in Minot and protest against their replacement. There were 150 missiles in the shape of a horseshoe around Minot, placed there sixty years ago to deter the Russians from attacking. She decided to protest at a Minuteman missile site. Wearing her mourning outfit and with her cane in her hand, she walked to the site. She wanted to be noticed, but could not guarantee she would get the right attention. Edna was very scared when she started protesting, but as the public noticed her, she gained more confidence and grew bolder. Karen was only eighteen and decided to stand for what she believed in, despite her father being an officer. Will was a young marine veteran on his way to New York to help his mother but he turned around to help Edna with the protest and for her protection. It was important for Edna to keep her promise to James.

The plot is about the danger that the missiles pose to the public and Edna’s struggle to educate the public. Shadows by Peter J. Manos was fast-paced and kept me on the edge of my seat; I could not wait to find out what would happen next. I wanted to know if Edna would continue to protest and if the public would stand with her. The events unfolded genuinely and naturally, the chapters flowed into each other. There were three main characters and each person had their journey. They were well developed and skillfully handled and continued to grow throughout the story. My favorite character was Edna; she moved out of her comfort zone, despite her age and the fact that she is a widow. I loved most of the characters, but there were a few I did not like. I had respect for Will who wanted to protect and help a stranger but did not like the idea of not going to his mother as promised. This book is well written and full of action and surprises; there was never a dull moment. I would highly recommend Shadows to readers who love a story with a military background.

K.C. Finn

Shadows is a work of fiction in the mystery, suspense, and intrigue subgenres. It is aimed at mature readers and was penned by author Peter J. Manos. The book follows a group of characters all involved with a proposed new ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile and the increased threat of nuclear annihilation it represents. Opposing the new missile is an elderly local woman who is willing to endure the abuse and pressure to back down with her vocal opposition to the missile and everything it represents. In the background of her conflict, a marriage fails, and the prospect of romance gives a young girl hope of escaping from her home life.

Setting a tale focused on the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction in the post-pandemic world where viral outbreaks and climate change are the biggest perceived threats to humanity runs the risk of coming across as archaic in the message, but not so in this outstanding tale. It reminds us all that the nuclear stockpile still sits in silos the press of a button away from ending the world. Author Peter J. Manos uses this backdrop and the associated themes to tell an intensely human set of stories about seemingly small people making big decisions that could see them take control of their narrative or lose it entirely. The characters of this book are beautifully realized and pursuing relatable and understandable goals that help them spring to life off the page. Facing down an issue that threatens never to be relegated to history, Shadows is an important tale about the cultural discussion on the military's role in the modern world.

Stephanie Chapman

In his book Shadows, Peter J. Manos addresses the possibility of the United States' ability to respond to nuclear war. Edna O’Hare began having dreams about nuclear war as a young woman in 1962. Now, since the coronavirus pandemic claimed her husband, the dreams have returned. Aware of the government's plans to replace their outdated intercontinental ballistic missiles, she begins a protest. During her plans, William Larrabee finds himself stuck in a nearby ditch during a rainstorm. He abandons his car and seeks refuge with Edna. Shotgun in hand, she allows William to stay the night. Edna enlists William to help make a sign for her protest. While Edna is at the university, William continues his journey to New York to help his mother. Something tells him to turn around and help Edna with her protest. Edna is overjoyed when William returns. Meanwhile, rumors have surfaced of missing grenades, drug use, and missile operators cheating on their qualification tests. How safe can land-based missiles be when the military base is having these problems?

From the beginning, I became engrossed in Peter J. Manos' story. I was empathetic toward Edna over the loss of her husband, especially since he died in isolation. I know it would depress me if I had a spouse fall ill, and I could not be with them. The strength and persistence that Edna shows is admirable. William appears fearful of facing his mother, especially with her erratic behavior. I found it amusing when Lieutenant Calderone shows up at Edna’s while hallucinating on LSD. While I don't condone drug use, the image of him playing an imaginary piano in front of Edna after he states he is a missile control officer is something I can’t forget. I appreciated that the resources mentioned throughout the book were listed at the end. Everything Edna presents in her protests are facts. I would recommend Shadows to readers who are interested in knowing more about our government’s defense systems while reading how one person can bring change to the world.