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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Review: Desert Guardian

Desert Guardian
by Karen Duvall

When Kelly Bancroft receives a suicide letter from her brother Jake, she knows the star-worshipping cult he belongs to is to blame. Feeling responsible for him joining the group in the first place, she travels to the California desert where the nomadic Star Mother cult has set up camp.

Cult intervention specialist Sam Reed, aka The Arrow, doesn't know what he's in for when he teams up with Kelly to rescue her brother. Too independent for her own good, Kelly makes it abundantly clear that she'd rather save Jake on her own. She realizes Sam is the expert and gives in only because her brother's life is at stake.
Deluded by their fantasy beliefs, Star Mother's followers await the starship that promises them deliverance to a spiritual utopia on another planet. The caveat? All passengers must leave their bodies behind.

Sam and Kelly dodge the cult leaders? attempts to eliminate their meddling by eliminating them altogether. Will Sam's and Kelly's growing attraction to each other help or hinder their efforts to stop Star Mother's plan from playing out? Or will they become victims of the cult's suicidal madness themselves?

Available in eBook or print
(267 pages) - sensual
This dark tale opens with the perfect setting for a novel of suspense; a moonless night, still air and utter darkness save for one distant light. The characters that step forward into immediate action are powerful and resourceful. Their own guilts, haunting memories, and personal terrors only gradually emerge. Snappy dialogue punctuates the fast action in this thriller.

This is more than a straight forward thriller, however: it is a daring psychological study into the motivations behind early cult membership, the reasons why people, especially young people, might give up control of their lives for the security of some sort of family.

This eerie reflection of some of the worst of these types of communities, comes from a haunting new perspective; dreams and desperation, belief and disbelief both populate these pages. Readers will want the trusted to be trustworthy, will want the rescuer to rescue. However, it becomes apparent that even the good guys can have dark motivation. More; there is a depth of character, personal strength and attachment uncovered even within the least trustworthy characters. Duvall carries an ability to humanize even those with the most evil intent.

Sex here is a force of alienation as much as union, a reminder of dark motivations and doubt.

Throughout, the setting enhances the storyline, without ever being intrusive. The reader receives a strong sense of isolation, distance, and of a separation or escape from society. Doubts, action, and sinister intent make this book tough to put down.

Certain items float in the periphery as you read this, like the coyote , which offers a strange parallel, the feral animal so akin to desperately lost souls . This is an intriguing read, with an unexpected complexity that only adds to the action. Duvall exhibits huge insight in this work.

Thanks to our guest reviewer: Nancy A.Lindley-Gauthier