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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Grim, dark, and emotional, The Orientation of Dylan Woodger: A Central New York Crime Story by Chiuba Obele is an immersive mystery tale from start to finish. Told from the point of view of the protagonist, Dylan Woodger, he immediately reveals in the first chapter that someone has taken away his memories. The last thing he remembers is that his mother dropped him off at Hamilton College in 2016 and he wakes up in 2019 being interrogated by the Utica Mafia, who want their three million dollars back. Managing to escape, Dylan tries to put the pieces of his past back together, amnesia notwithstanding. Determined to find out who is responsible for putting him in this dilemma, he is about to discover that people around him have external appearances that conceal who they truly are.
Chiuba Obele supplies his narrative with appropriate pacing to sustain the element of mystery and suspense of his novel. It begins quickly with Dylan narrating how he got into trouble, and then the plot continues as Dylan retraces his steps to arrive at his present. The Orientation of Dylan Woodger is a diabolical and immersive experience, and one striking element of this story is how a present danger triggers the protagonist to dig deep into the past to uncover the truth. He needs to find out many things, including knowing if his mother is still alive. The story engages you in a sleuthing exercise in which Dylan’s fog of amnesia behooves you to play an invisible guide to help him navigate his personal mystery. It is uncanny in the way it evokes an emotional response, and in the end, it makes you glad that you joined the ride.