I often find it to be an intimidating prospect to review a book that was written by a friend. I feel obligated to give a positive review and if I do take it on, and I worry that I wonít like it. However, I knew that I had little to fear in picking up Harry Shannonís Eye of the Burning Man. Iíve enjoyed all of his previous publications.

Yes, Harry is a friend. Harry is active on the message boards, writes novels and stories, is a husband and father, works as an analyst and he has taken time out of his busy schedule to offer advisement to me in times of personal uncertainty. Harry Shannon is one of the good ones.

His readers first became acquainted with Mick Callahan in Memorial Day, a previous novel that was also published by Five Star Books. Callahan is a character that I can relate to immensely. Itís funny, Mick Callahan is a former actor and Iím not; Callahan was almost a NAVY SEAL and Iíve never even considered joining the Armed Forces; he is a former cocaine addict and Iíve never had any kind of problem with the stuff. And he is a psychologist and Iím a blue collar worker. Why do I have such an easy time identifying with this Callahan guy?

Well, Mick Callahan is a recovered substance abuser and heís also a guy that wrestles with his own personal demons. Heís trying to find peace and redemption within himself. That something just about all of us can empathize with. How many of us are ashamed or embarrassed about some of the things weíve done in the past? How many of us desire to learn from our mistakes and wish to help others that are making the same ones? I think that encompasses the majority of us. Mick is a flawed and often uncertain human being, yet he has a solid moral center that I think is shared by most individuals. Heís bungling along his life, getting his share of knocks, and trying to find love, happiness and satisfaction. Pretty much like the rest of us.

Eye of the Burning Man opens with Mick in action on a sparsely listened to late night radio show. Heís up the ladder of success a bit since the brutal circumstances that occurred over the last Memorial Day weekend, but he still has a long way to go. Demons from that weekend still haunt Callahan, both in human and emotional forms. Why did Mick and his lady companion get attacked outside the radio station at the beginning of the book? His cleaning ladyís young son is abducted. Coincidence? Strange things are happening. Things that somehow point to the bizarre counter-culture event known as the Burning Man Festival. Once more, Harry finds himself immersed in a messy, violent puzzle in which he must question the motives of nearly everyone he contacts in his struggle to help an addicted young woman that saved his own ass last May.

I love hard, yet emotional suspense that is written by the likes of Ed Gorman and Bill Pronzini. Harry Shannon hits all the right notes in both Memorial Day and Eye of the Burning Man. If youíve read the first one, it will help with Eye of the Burning Man, but I donít think itís absolutely necessary.

Bottom line: I truly wish that more books I pick up would be as entertaining, enriching and potent as Eye of the Burning Man. This is the kind of novel that the reader flies through with very few breaks, and wishes that it wouldnít end as fast as it did.

Buy it from Shocklines

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