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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
I’ll be honest here: I like thrillers but not every thriller, especially conspiracy thrillers, are easy to follow. So many are description-heavy when it comes to settings or they are overloaded with backstories on too many characters. The result? A plot that gets bogged down in details i.e. a big yawn. But that can never be said about The Othala Rune by D.A. Dalessandro, who, as I found out, wrote the spec script for the movie Snakes on the Plane. Perhaps it’s because he enjoys script-writing and excels at it, that The Othala Rune never stopped moving along at a brisk pace from start to finish. Dalessandro’s primary tool for keeping a story going is dialogue…lots of it. For me, that’s the best approach to understanding the characters and their motivations: their words tell us all we need to know about them.
But the one exception to that in this novel is Kirsten, the enigmatic daughter of a wealthy political donor who hires a private eye, Lazarus Flynn to find her a month after she goes missing. Why would a father wait a month to track down his daughter? Is she dead or has she just run away? If the latter, then why is she running, and from whom? Flynn has his work cut out for him. He does manage to locate Kirsten, but can he believe the bizarre stories she is telling him? Her friends indicate that though Kirsten is highly intelligent, she’s a risk-taker, even a tad weird. Her father has had her committed to a sanitarium at one point. So just what the heck is going on? Who is telling the truth?
I cannot remember enjoying a political thriller as much as I did The Othala Rune. The speed with which the plot moved along, together with the behavior and exchanges between the colorful characters felt cinematic: so easy to visualize everything. Oh, one more thing that made this novel a really good read? It’s set in the 1930s. Again, without being bogged down in historical details, I watched people protesting outside the White House, and vets being ousted from their encampments. I sensed the racial and political unrest with the fear of Communism and the rise of Fascism. Yes, I experienced all that in one novel. Do I recommend reading The Othala Rune? You bet I do!