The Banjo Player
Story Bay Press (2010)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/10)
I love fiction; that has never been a secret. When asked what my favorites are, I would have a really hard time deciding on a genre, but I can tell you exactly which two types would always hold me spellbound. One is a totally alien world, something finely crafted by the author and dealing with utterly unbelievable and foreign lands, species and events. The other, probably even more compelling, is a fiction book heavily based on reality, something contemporary, relevant and scarily close to the real events of the day. Sam Yarney’s “The Banjo Player” is an outstanding example of the second type.
A chilling prologue, which sets the tone for the rest of the book, makes the reader quickly realize that he or she is in for a fast and furious ride. Fascinating locales, intriguing characters, spies and killers for hire abound. Those alone would make for a great story, but Yarney does not stop there. Actually, I think his greatest strength is in being extremely relevant. We have all read great books involving terrorism, espionage, conspiracies and like, but how many of them are talking about life-changing events, such as the Deepwater Horizon, mere months after they have happened? I had to stop and think for a moment there. It’s been only 5 ½ months since that fateful day, yet Yarney managed to weave Deepwater Horizon in “The Banjo Player” in a meaningful way. I was constantly amazed at the tangled web of very convincing sounding dates he managed to weave throughout the book – tangled, yes, but never confusing, and always extremely thought-provoking. Mixing in a number of all too pertinent issues facing the world today, Yarney kept me at the edge of my chair for the scant two days I needed to finish “The Banjo Player.” Financial manipulations, cheap credit, terrorist attacks, eco-issues, global dominance and the shifts of power, shady dealings of oil companies, invasions of privacy and monitoring of what we do daily… all of those and more are very real, and extremely scary.
Yarney’s storyline was compelling and the many individual threads of it interlaced convincingly, leading to an unexpected and chilling ending. I’ve enjoyed his characters, particularly the two main ones, Zac Pullman and Kimberly Piper, for their unique traits and endearing quirkiness. My only criticism would be that the writing sometimes sounds slightly rudimentary, particularly in the segments that are not dealing with intrigue and hi-tech issues, such as the emotional scenes in the last part of the book. There were also some intermittent editing and punctuation issues, but I did not find that surprising in view of how quickly this book must have been published. I am certain that those will be taken care of in the future editions, since “The Banjo Payer” certainly deserves that.
I would gladly recommend Sam Yarney’s “The Banjo Player” to those readers who enjoy fast-moving suspense with a hefty dose of relevant and contemporary content, and I am looking forward for more books from this talented author.