Swarm Theory

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
494 Pages
Reviewed on 03/28/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Award winning author E. W. Sullivan (Sully) was born in Jacksonville, Florida. He worked as an architect and contractor, taught computer networking, and owned a financial services company before becoming an author. Sheaves of Zion was Sullivan's first novel and Readers' Favorite 2013 bronze medal winner for fiction-mystery-sleuth. His second novel, Swarm Theory, is book two of the Thelonious Zones crime series. He credits his high school English teacher, Mr. Smith, for planting the seed for his love of writing, his late father for how to tell a great story and his late mother for how to curse properly. E.W. Sullivan lives, works and writes in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Anita and daughter Paris.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Swarm Theory by award winning author E.W. Sullivan is a crime fiction, a thriller that reads like a breeze and whose captivating language will immediately seduce readers. Thelonious Zones hasn’t come to terms yet with the murder of his mother, a crime for which his father has been arrested. Everyone but his father’s best friend, Sam Drake, believes he killed his wife, and now twenty-four years later, Zones investigates the murder of his mother. But how can he trace the truth in a society where bombs are dropped at any time and in unusual places? Caught between investigating the murder of an Arab college student and investigating his own mother’s death, Zones progresses in a world where every step he takes could land him in a dangerous trap, but the secrets he uncovers might be the very thing that will blow his mind. Is the criminal profiler ready to face what awaits him?

Swarm Theory opens with action, a scene that alerts the reader to the sinister events that could happen in the story, and their curiosity and interest are immediately stimulated. The reader is drawn in right away by the powerful dialogue, the suspense, and the action that opens this brilliant story. The plot is fast-paced, with short chapters that are poignantly absorbing. The characters are well-grounded and it’s interesting to watch Zones with the compelling characters like Detective Marmaduke DuBoise, Inspector Siler and Agent Thomas. Sullivan has this uncanny gift of letting readers into the stream of consciousness of his characters, arousing all kinds of emotions in them through his careful use of dialogue and crisp writing. His fiction reads so realistically that you’ll feel as if you're participating in a crime scene. I loved the originality in this writing. A work of rare brilliance, a must-read!

Michelle Stanley

Swarm Theory is a murder-mystery thriller by E.W. Sullivan. Dr. Thelonious Zones, a criminal profiler, reluctantly takes a case from his boss and godfather, Sam Drake, to investigate the death of an Arab student and a bombing that happened while he was in that vicinity. He would rather review the twenty-four-year-old murder of his mother that his father allegedly committed when he was a child. Somehow, these two cases become linked when a series of bombings occurs and the weapon that is found links his father to the crimes. He works with Detectives Marmaduke and Rome, and the trio shows very little hesitation in bending the law to see justice served. Zones risks his life traveling to the Middle East to follow a trail the bomb suspects left, but he begins to wonder if that was a staged wild goose chase.

One of the first things I noticed when reading Swarm Theory was the droll names of some of the characters, as well as the very stimulating dialogue laced with sharp retorts. E.W. Sullivan's writing style indicates he has a very wry sense of humour and knows how to keep readers' attention with a good mystery. One of my favourite characters, Sam Drake, a former Black Panther, speaks and behaves as though he is still in the movement and is a charming flirt with the women. The book is engaging and has lots of fast-paced drama that will entertain readers. Swarm Theory, a murder-mystery thriller by E.W. Sullivan, is recommended.

Ica Iova

From the beginning to the end, Swarm Theory by E.W. Sullivan is a captivating story. Dr. Thelonious Zones is a criminal profiler. He hears screams coming from a back alley and, with a closer look, he discovers that a woman is about to be raped. He interrupts the act just as an explosion goes off, burying him under a pile of trash where he is found alive by the investigating team. He was working on trying to prove (or disprove) his father’s innocence, but his investigation is disrupted by the blast that has killed a young Arab college student, who at the time of his death was disguised as a blond haired, blue eyed Caucasian male.

More bombings follow and Zones’ list of suspects stretches a mile long. Everyone fits the profile — from suspected Islamic terrorists to environmentalists and animal rights activists to Jamaican drug dealers and perhaps even government officials. The investigators begin to question the accuracy of Zones’ work every time new suspects surface. But when the path leads him to evidence connected to his mother’s murder, Zones begins to question everything he thought he knew.

From the thrilling screams in the alley to the very last paragraph, Swarm Theory by E.W. Sullivan grips the reader and never lets go. This astonishingly imaginative story, crammed with interesting characters and realistic dialogue, is absolutely riveting as it takes the reader on an intriguing ride through various possibilities. I was especially fascinated and pleased with the conclusion of this story.

Jane Allen Petrick

Swarm Theory by E.W. Sullivan opens with a bang. Literally. Dr. Thelonius Zones, a psychiatrist at a South Georgia prison, finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Only through a life saving coincidence does he make it out of that bad encounter, only to stumble (very soon thereafter) into the next, and the next, and the next. Rapists, Islamic terrorists, FBI infiltrators, crazy college professors ... Swarm Theory has them all lethally in play almost before you can say, "Thelonius."

For those of you who got hooked into the Zones zone in Sullivan's first book, Sheaves of Zion (and, if you haven't already read that book, you will want to read it after reading this one!), in Swarm Theory, the Zones saga continues. They're all back: Detective Marmaduke (who drives a car named Shirley), the irascible Captain Franklin, and that fine lady detective, Olga Rome, also known as "Queen." In Swarm Theory, Dr. Zones continues his pursuit of childhood demons, continues to find himself in life-threatening situations no respectable desk-sitting psychiatrist would contemplate, and continues to be pissed off about the whole thing. Throw in a gun named Reverend Ike, an evil personage lurking in Congress, and the beginnings of a very steamy love affair, and Swarm Theory delivers a tasty read indeed.

Sullivan writes short, clear sentences, very much "in the moment." Crisp dialogue allows the reader to "see" the story. A well-crafted plot and rich detail create graphic, almost cinematic scenes that cruise along the page. For example, "He steadied him, like balancing a penny on end." Or "The unhealthy loitered there, like mold on bread." I don't usually read books of this genre. Moreover, I haven't picked up any fiction over 350 pages since my college encounter with War and Peace. But an introductory quote from the black intellectual Frederick Douglass drew me into Swarm Theory. And E.W. Sullivan's fine writing kept me there, page after page: a sleep deprived but very satisfied reader.

Raanan Geberer

Meet Thelonious Zones, street-smart criminal profiler and psychologist, the hero of E.W. Sullivan’s Swarm Theory. Zones is walking one night in Decatur, Georgia, minding his own business, when he stumbles upon an attempted rape and tries to stop the assault. Just then, there is an explosion at a nearby animal shelter. The victim — an Arab-American student — disguised himself with dyed blond hair, blue contact lenses, and a fake Anglo-sounding name. The suspect’s father, a scientist who may have ties to shadowy figures in Saudi Arabia, comes under suspicion. Soon, there is another bombing and at the scene of this one, a gun is found that bears the fingerprints, among others, of Dr. Zones’ long-deceased mother. There’s yet another suspect, a Jamaican drug dealer called Jay-Boy. If there’s anyone who can pull these diverse strands together, its Dr. Zones. And at the same time, he’s still trying to solve the case of his mother’s long-ago murder in Harlem.

Sullivan is a master of realism. While I can’t vouch for the Georgia scenes, his descriptions of various New York City neighborhoods – Harlem, Hunts Point, DUMBO – are right on point. The dialogue is very convincing. Because even hard-core mystery fans need a respite from the action once in a while, Sullivan introduces some “human interest” in the depictions of Detective Marmaduke, an Irish-American detective who has been divorced three times and has a drinking problem, and Detective Rome, a tough African-American woman who frequently steps over the line to get information from her suspects. Sullivan also obviously knows a lot about science – even this Bronx High School of Science graduate was unfamiliar with nanotechnology until I read Swarm Theory. All in all, I would recommend Swarm Theory to mystery fans.