Ravens Run - Trudel
Publisher: Trudel Group (2014)
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A covert CIA mission gone sideways, a harrowing post-WWI transatlantic flight, and a research facility with “remote viewing” capabilities: three seemingly separate stories woven across time and locations bring us to the brink of an attack that would annihilate North America in this entertaining and suspenseful novel titled Raven’s Run.

John D. Trudel researched actual historical archives to tell the escapades of his uncle, George O. Noville, a Navy officer who made historical flights, explored Antarctica, became an oil executive, and eventually settled in Mexico to retire. It is through his voice that the reader ‘hears’ the story of forgotten U.S. history.

Josie is a gentle soul with an incredible psychic ability (as well as a penchant for marijuana and going braless). All she has to do is have physical contact with an item to see its history, location, and actions occurring around it. The government, needless to say, sees her as a valuable asset and has her working in secrecy. Her viewings have sometimes left her comatose – she is especially sensitive to violence, and sees her own future in a mental institution if she doesn’t change the path she’s on.

Wayne, who has been given the boot from the CIA, is given a second chance along with a new identity as Raven. He is tasked to protect Josie. While on his failed yet explosive mission in Iran, Raven had uncovered a diary belonging to Noville, with the title “Operation High Jump,” a major Antarctic expedition that occurred right after World War II.

All evidence from the mission was destroyed, but the significance of the notebook is unclear. Josie is tasked with viewing the events surrounding the notebook, but the vastness of the great white ice continent makes finding any worthwhile data a huge challenge. While her talents are great, they are not unlimited.

Meanwhile, Islamic extremists are racing toward a mission of their own in Antarctica, allowing nothing to stop their quest to rid the world of the “Great Satan” and infidels. With ties to oil executives, high level U.S. government officials, and a nuclear-powered icebreaking vessel, not much can stop them, not even one of their own. The suspense builds at a breakneck pace.

Josie and Raven form an unlikely bond, breaking down the walls that he has had to build around himself out of necessity. Raven gains Josie’s trust, and she his. They start envisioning their own future together, but first they must complete this last, dangerous mission: solving the mysteries surrounding Noville, his death, and his diary. Will their love give them the strength to survive the ordeal, or add to their vulnerability?

Mechanical techies will enjoy Raven’s Run’s detailing of weaponry and engine mechanics on airplanes and ships, in both military and private use. Trudel challenges some widely held positions on climate change, Islam, the JFK assassination, Vietnam, international incidents occurring between WWII and today.

While this reviewer didn’t do any fact checking, Trudel offers a “Factoids and Fantasies” section to help the reader sort through historical fact and what is inspired in this work.  A post on Trudel’s blog sums it up nicely: “There is a lot of truth in fiction these days, and we live in interesting times.”

Reviewer’s Note:  All in all, I give Raven’s Run five stars. The ending is awesome! I tried not to give too much away in the review because the unfolding and braiding of events adds to the reader’s pleasure of discovery. This reviewer is looking forward to reading Trudel’s sequel, Raven’s Redemption which will be out in 2015.