“Half-Past Dawn” by Richard Doetsch (Atria Books, 2011)

Half-Past Dawn

Bestselling author Richard Doetsch last thrilled readers with Thieves of Darkness and the amazing 13th Hour; in Half-Past Dawn he delivers a whole new meaning to the term “thriller,” providing shocking reveals and realizations at the end of almost every chapter.  Readers will be left wondering (and dreading) what will happen next, and be physically unable to stop reading.

Jack Keeler wakes up one morning to find that there are many things wrong with the world; things that were not this way the day before.  He has a strange wound over his right eye that has been hastily and badly stitched together, yet he has no memory of ever being injured.  There is also a strange and intricate tattoo design on his forearm – written in an unknown script – which he has no recollection getting.  He does not hear the sound of his beautiful wife, or his happy twin girls; his house is all too quiet.  And then he finds the newspaper with the headline NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT ATTORNEY JACK KEELER DEAD.  It is then that Keeler knows there is something very wrong with the world.

Now it’s up to Jack to find out what happened to the love of his life; his children who he can’t live without; and why the world thinks he’s dead.  It seems like one of those good mysteries that delivers answers as the story goes along, except Doetsch is looking to change this expected dynamic in Half-Past Dawn, providing unpredictable plot twists and startling discoveries.  In The 13th Hour, Doetsch used a device that seemed fantastic in nature; in this novel he takes on the human mind and memory – our most important asset – and yet when we start to doubt it, reality begins to be questioned.

Stories this elaborately conceived usually have a weak ending, or cop out in some way; not so with Half-Past Dawn.  Doetsch has done his homework and research, linking with an Asian people out of legend, to present an incredible story that will leave one wondering until the very end.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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