By: Jacek Waliszewski
Publication Date: August 15, 2023
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Jacek Waliszewski delivers action to sink your teeth into in his latest novel, Midnight in Syria.
Confusion is the word of the day when Dakota rises from a comatose sleep. She is in a hotel—what hotel, she’s not sure. A lonely finch is perched on the windowsill curiously watching Dakota’s body slowly awaken. Dakota grabs her jeans and makes her way to the door. When she arrives downstairs in the lobby of the mysterious hotel, she is greeted with emptiness. There is food at the buffet, but again, nobody is around. She makes a plate and returns to her room. On her way to the rooftop terrace, she grabs the cumbersome satellite phone and settles in to make a call to her editor, Tim. Continents away, Tim is somewhere in Manhattan. Dakota is somewhere in (near?) Syria on assignment. She is a reporter, and her mission is to tell the world what’s really going on there. Slowly, her memory begins to process the circumstances that deposited her where she currently is. As the phone boots up, she notes the battery is declining. With a sinking thought, the first concrete memory surfaces. The battery was stolen… along with her camera. Was it yesterday? Two days ago? What difference does it make? Her current situation pales in comparison to the rollercoaster ride she is about to experience.
When Dakota finally connects with Tim, she can hear bombing that, based on the cloud of smoke in the near distance, is somewhere close to a suburb of Damascus. Shortly after the strike, the hotel loses power, and she ends her call with Tim. Dakota is waiting for her pickup. He is late, but he is also her ride to smuggle her into Syria. As the sounds of gunfire loom closer, she moves to the edge of her roof-top perch. In the faint distance a small blue Opel catapults out of a side alley and slides sideways as it makes its next turn. Now what? She takes refuge in her room in hopes of a ‘Plan B’ in the not-too-distant future. As the sun sets, she hears movement somewhere downstairs. Quietly, she makes her way to the lobby; fortunately having the foresight to grab a makeshift weapon. When she crosses into the restaurant, something reaches out from the shadows and takes hold of her wrist. It's fight or flight time and Dakota wastes no time to consider whether the hand belongs to a friend or foe.
I have not had the privilege to read any of Mr. Waliszewski’s previous books, but suffice it to say, they are now on my list of ‘books to read’ soon. Without a moment’s hesitation the reader is strapped into the front seat of an imaginary vehicle that will curb rails and zoom across pages of epic excitement! Waliszewski is the master of his pen and knows how to deposit sheer thrill and anticipation of ‘what’s next’ throughout this entire read. Passages such as: "...Dakota swings her dagger wildly behind her and there is a meaty slash. In return, her wrist is hit with a quick strike, and the impact sends a lightning bolt of pain through her arm. The blade hits the floor in a clatter, and she is thrown into the center of the restaurant where she stumbles over a chair and falls to the floor, taking the candle and tablecloth with her..." (pg. 14) Now that’s how you capture the interest of your audience! The main characters, Dakota (a reporter) and Owen (Special Ops, Army) are the real deal. The descriptions are rich and while there is some romance sprinkled here and there, Waliszewski is the master at not painting too much ‘cheese’ into any moments. He has stepped into the light with some action-packed, stand on its own merits, clear your afternoon, and get ready to read creative work! This is a book that is hard to put down until the proverbial ‘The End’ is staring you down. Well done!
Quill says: Midnight in Syria may be a work of fiction, but it definitely nudges the readers’ conscience to seek the answer to ‘why’ do we go to war?
For more information on Midnight in Syria: The Special Forces Connection Series, please visit the author's website at: https://www.storiesbyjacek.com/