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Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Historic Event and a Book Review Post - The Linkage

My alarm went off at 530 this morning and I decided to get up and catch up on some reading, as I am presently reviewing a book about "death with dignity."  My wife asked, "Why are you up as she was preparing some coffee."

Then, she reminded us both that the last flight of the space shuttle Atlantis was nearing its end: the shuttle was about 10 minutes away from touchdown and the dual sonic boom of entering Earth's atmosphere could be heard. Living in Florida, this is quite an event just to hear.  We decided to go outside, sit on the tailgate of my truck, and drink coffee.

I finished another book by author George Mardo and have enclosed my review below. I hope you enjoy the review.  Please feel free to make comments. [If you are receiving email notification of this blog post, please go to the actual blog to subscribe and/or make comments.]

One more day till Friday...
-Steve
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Available at Amazon.com

The Linkage
George J. Mardo
Art Bookbindery.com
ISBN: 978-0-9815555-1-5
238 Pages (Includes front and back matter)

By Steven King, MBA, MEd

The Linkage, by author George Mardo, illustrates an important life theme only learned through the passage of time: one must be content with his present circumstance—as you never know how life will change for you. This novel details the dramatic story of two love-struck prisoners of war who meet in a German concentration camp and how their lives will be ultimately intertwined with a fellow inmate.

Being befriended by a compassionate prison guard, Jon and Stella come to America in the aftermath of the Displaced Persons Act and become owners of a rather uneventful diner in Pittsburgh. The course of their lives will prove to be anything but uneventful…as they are systematically wooed by The Linkage, an organization which brings people out of Communist countries and repatriates them to safer places. While asserting that its mantra is “…to the overthrow of Communism without spilling blood,” the reader quickly realizes that plenty of blood is spilled when Communism has its tentacles in a country. This understory alone provides enormous intrigue for this mysterious spy novel.

In what will prove to be the turning point of the book, Jon and Stella journey to meet Helen, Stella’s cousin. They are burdened by a nagging concern: how will they bring Helen to America so that her family can enjoy the benefits of the American lifestyle? While they are successful in bringing Helen to America through a twist of familial manipulation—the move will prove to set into play a series of events that will fatally compromise some of the key players.

Having read one of George Mardo’s other books, From Scorn to Respect: The Story of Joseph Malik, I affirm that this author is committed to the family. He has a keen sense of cultural survival when a family has been displaced and is not native to America. The Linkage spins this theme, as well, underlining the importance of family acceptance, no matter what you have been through. The reader will journey with some of the characters as they describe living through hell on earth. If confronted by desperate times, what exactly is the right thing to do? When life rocks you from all ends, who can rightfully judge your actions? As Atticus Finch says to young Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Several of Mardo’s characters make this reality quite evident.

The author uses a largely conversational narrative to make the reader grapple with compelling ideas; such as, the importance of family, choices made in desperation, and the ominous nature of revenge. While I read this story, I frequently asked myself: what would I do in this circumstance? If I had endured the horrors of a concentration camp, for instance—would I have mercy upon someone I discovered years later in different place? In many ways, I found myself resonating with the main character, Jon.

While the author builds plots very easily, sometimes the transitions leave you wondering where exactly you are in the story. I would like to see more background during conversational interludes to know exactly who is speaking and to whom—and, for what purpose.

There is no end to action in this novel…the story moves very rapidly as the nuances of The Linkage compound many peoples’ lives. Jon ends up making tough choices after he is forced to engage in an ultimate sacrifice. I appreciate the fact that Mardo strategically wraps up the story on a good note—and does not leave the reader hanging in the end.

If you like mystery and intrigue, this novel is for you.

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