Words Kill by David Myles Robinson [review]

You think you know somebody – especially your own father. Cody Blaze, however, never knew the full story of his father’s adventures before he settled down with Cody’s mom. Now, Russ Blaze is dead, in what seems to be a car accident. But he leaves behind a message suggesting that, if he’s dead, he was murdered. To understand who might have killed him, Cody must read a memoir his father never told him he was writing. Russ Blaze’s memoir contains a series of revelations that are shocking and amazing. Cody never knew had had a half-brother, and that’s the least surprising thing he reads!

Without giving away all the fun, Russ Blaze’s story reads a bit like Forrest Gump – he was a journalist and reported on many of the key events of the 60s and 70s. The memoir takes us through those times, including the drug culture, the Vietnam war, post-traumatic stress syndrome affecting returning soldiers, the rise of neo-Nazi groups, the nuclear arms race, and up to the early days of the AIDS epidemic. He confronts issues of domestic abuse, interracial relationships, and the heartbreak of domestic terrorism. All this is woven into the story of Russ and his brother, Leo, which ties back into the possible explanation for Russ’s death. It’s a fascinating internal story filled with emotion, suspense, intrigue, action, and mystery.

The bulk of the book is the story-within-the-story as Cody reads the 45 chapters of his father’s memoir. He periodically breaks from his father’s tale to discuss the situation with his mother. Then, when he reaches the end, he confronts the possible reality of how it all ties together into the mystery of Russ’s death and leads to a very interesting and unexpected conclusion.

The book is well-written and flows well despite some unavoidable lulls in Russ’s story. His previously undisclosed life included a deep relationship with his first wife. Getting to know her, and achieving an understanding of their love, is critical to the story. That tragic love story is a third level of depth that makes this book much more than just an action adventure or a mystery thriller. Mr. Robinson has created a world and a world within that world that will draw you in and keep you wondering right to the end.

This is a fully stand-alone story that is not part of any series. It’s a novel of significance in its social commentary and entertaining both on a present level and as a historical timepiece. Extremely well done and highly recommended.

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