Review: Overlook, by Jon Mollison

Part of the advantage of being part of a publisher is that I get to read books for free.

The disadvantage is that reading the e-ARC months before the book releases means I have to wait months to review it.

Anyway…

Of the Silver Empire superhero books released thus far, I believe this is my favorite to date. And this is out of an elite batch of authors, all of whom excel in their subgenres. Morgon Newquist’s was more classic superhero. Kai Wai Cheah’s was more police procedural or noir thriller. JD Cowan’s was more Isekai.

Jon Mollison’s Overlook is more spy thriller. I could almost hear Jeffery Donovan’s Michael Weston narrate this one.

Nothing is more dangerous than an invisible man.

Joe’s spent his life being forgotten. Not even the IRS comes for his back taxes. He’s a ghost, a perfectly average, perfectly forgettable man. It suits his purposes, though it’s a lonely existence. He can live as he wants, plying his almost-invisibility for freelance jobs.

Then a pretty blonde finds him when no one else can, asking for his help solving a murder. He almost says no, despite his instincts to help a damsel in distress. But how did she find him? And who is she?

He takes the job to find out. But he bites off more than he can chew as he realizes a brutal secretive organization called The Phoenix Ring is behind the murder, and somehow they can predict his every move.

A new Heroes Unleashed series begins with Jon Mollison’s Overlook, a fast-paced, action-packed superhero spy novel that will keep readers guessing until the end.

Can Joe defeat the shadowy Phoenix Ring? Or will his powers fail him when he needs them the most? Read Overlook today and find out!

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and textAs the old poem goes,  “Last night I saw upon the stair, /A little man who wasn’t there,/ He wasn’t there again today /Oh, how I wish he’d go away…”
 
Overlook begins with a low key version of a James Bond opening, but it’s one of the better fight scenes I’ve read in a while. It’s clear, well blocked out, and sets up the rest of the book as perfectly as one of those over the top Bond scenarios.
 
Our hero, dear reader, is an average man — average color, hair, eyes, appearance. Before he received his super powers, he was a sniper instructor, and already a bit of a ghost (insert John Ringo joke here). One day, he just … disappeared.
 
But now, he’s the little man who wasn’t there. He’s the middle child of five sons. He is so invisible, he has to cook his own food at a diner. When he’s adrift at sea, he has to save himself, because no one would see his and save him.
 
His name? Joe Smith. Just plain Joe.
 
Because of course that would be his name.
 
Despite avoiding trouble as best he can, it finds him anyway. Because with great powers comes great headaches. And one is about to find him. It starts with a simple murder, and evolves into a conspiracy of the Phoenix Ring — an organization so monstrous and so complex, the leads are less dead ends “and more of a knotted ouroboros with multiple heads eating its own multiple tails.”
 
And that’s a nice little sample of what the narration’s like. There’s at least one car chase so awesome, it needs a Hans Zimmer soundtrack.
 
If one were to compare overlook to the average thriller, it would be more like Adam Hall’s Quiller series — like with Hall’s work, there are moments when one reads along, there’s a cliffhanger, and then the reader must keep going in order to find out what happened. 
 
Joe doesn’t have the powers of Superman, or the tech of Batman. He gets beaten up a lot. Unlike Jim Rockford, he makes certain that other people get beaten up alongside him.
 
Additional props must be given to the design of the villain of the piece. They are freaking evil. Imagine a Dean Koontz villain… then tone down the mustache twirling to a reasonable level. Perhaps using CS Lewis’ NICE from That Hideous Strength. The enemy here is no less evil, with similar methods and motivations. They’re anti-technology because technology makes it harder to control the masses, and their inquisitors look like a gender studies Umbrage of Rowling fame. 
 
The Phoenix Ring is less a reductio ad absurdum of a lot of current trends, and more like the logical outcome. They’re scary because we could look around and see exactly how they would be the end result of current events.
 
…. As I said, they’re like a Dean Koontz or CS Lewis villain.
 
Short version — if you’ve read the other Silver Empire novels, Overlook is a great continuation of the universe. If you haven’t read the previous works, this is an excellent stand alone novel.
 
 
While you’re at it, you might want to check out my award winning Saint Tommy NYPD series as well.

 

About Declan Finn

Declan Finn is the author of Honor at Stake, an urban fantasy novel, nominated for Best Horror in the first annual Dragon Awards. He has also written The Pius Trilogy, an attempt to take Dan Brown to the woodshed in his own medium -- soon to be republished by Silver Empire Press. Finn has also written "Codename: Winterborn," an SF espionage thriller, and it's follow-up, "Codename: Winterborn." And "It was Only on Stun!" and "Set To Kill" are murder mysteries at a science fiction convention.
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