Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hard to Die by Andra Watkins

Hard to Die.  Andra Watkins. Word Hermit Press. November 2016. 264 pp. ISBN #: 9780990859376.

Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of Aaron Burr, is fiercely defensive of her father, believing others led him astray and that even others allowed his duel with Alexander Hamilton and his trial over supposedly being a traitor to label him as an infamous character. 

It’s now 1950 and Theodosia is having a hard time accepting that she is dead and between worlds.  She has been given a mission, which she has to figure out herself with the occasional hints of a “Guardian.”  She has already failed four times and will have thirteen times to get it right.  If she doesn’t get it right, she will be forced to remain forever in this limbo of an existence.  So she’s a divided character.  Part of her wants to know the mission and complete it and the larger part of her wants to kill General Wilkinson, Aaron Burr’s partner at one time in planning an invasion of Mexico.  But now General Wilkinson has a different role, one which is rather confusing to the reader at times.

We next meet a West Point Cadet, Richard Cox, who used to be a spy against the Russians.  Now “George” is forcing him to return to the spy business and Richard wants no part of it.  George tells Richard that he will die if he doesn’t return.  It seems there’s a spy who has been caught and some vital information is on the loose about nuclear weapons.  Remember 1950 was a time of virulent anti-Communistic opinion.  The plot gets murky, however, when the reader is not sure if George is on the sides of the Americans or Russians at odd moments here and there toward the latter part of the novel. 

Some other historical figures enter the fray as Theodosia and Richard get closer and the forces against them are oppressively close and threatening.  All the historical characters in this novel have a good side and an evil side, and the reader must keep flipping the pages rapidly as the author does such a great job in mixing up the conclusions readers want to shape from the very first page.  That takes talent, indeed!

How many times can one die?  Does goodness guarantee one will win the challenges that rapidly and forcefully impress Theodosia and Richard?  Will these life-threatening scenes end in the separation of Richard and Theodosia who are getting ever closer?  Good story, Andra Watkins! 

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