Producing a good novel is hard. Producing a better sequel is harder (I’m in the middle of trying; trust me). While I very much enjoyed and favorably reviewed the first two books in Hans Schantz’s Hidden Truth series, it turns out the best was yet to come. The Brave and the Bold is bigger and, well, bolder. It’s a precisely aimed missile that hits its targets in the x-ring, and provides the reader a hell of a good time getting there.
The Brave and the Bold is not just an excellent continuation, it represents a big step in the evolution of the author and his Hero, Peter Burdell, now more a man than a youth transitioning to adulthood. In this third volume he operates more independently, much of the time without his friend/sidekick Amit, his mentors or his Uncle Rob to advise him. Deep in the enemy camp, he must negotiate with ambiguous allies and make big decisions on his own. The maturing of his character is deftly and subtly handled, and is one of the delights of the book.
The Brave and the Bold is beautifully crafted, bigger and longer than the first two books in the series, but a smoothly unified whole. All of us would hope that we would grow as writers over time. Schantz has grown and developed as a writer, even as his character Peter Burdell has matured. As before, there are nicely integrated bits of science and engineering and a humorous skewering of the Social Justice sacred cows of our time; but there’s an increase of seriousness, of urgency in the Brave and the Bold as Pete has to balance serious risks, the risks of working with possibly questionable allies and getting himself and those he values hurt or killed, to stop an evil organization with big plans to transform the world in a way that he and the reader would certainly find unendurable.
The bulk of the action takes place on (in)famous Jekyll Island, Georgia, where, as The Fed officially acknowledges, “A secret gathering…in 1910 laid the foundations for the Federal Reserve System.”
It’s the things not on the map–the secret tunnels, the underground vaults and the…things that lie within them that made for extra fascination for this reader. There is a wondeful sense of place to the action on Jekyll Island. I presume the author must have visited and documented the setting to be able to pull this off. It’s a wonderful achievement.
The Grand Conspiracy being hatched in this beautiful setting this time is much, much grander than a US central bank–though perhaps the Fed was just a step along the path to what the “Civic Circle” has in mind.
The battle to stop that plan from coming to fruition is a thrilling, satisfying and epic conclusion to an excellent book. Luckily for his readers, Schantz has indicated that if The Brave and the Bold gets to 100 Amazon reviews, he’ll deliver us the next volume within a year. So buy and read the book, and review it. It’s an entertaining thriller that reflects the values that (I’m assuming if you’ve read this far) you and I hold dear.
Meanwhile, I understand that Dr. Schantz is working on a popular physics book with some ideas about how to resolve the so-called “paradoxes” of quantum mechanics.