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Thursday, January 28, 2010

From the Belly of the Dragon by Mark Mynheir

Special Agent Timothy Porter and his partners are currently in the midst of a troublesome case. Dr. Walter Simmons, an extremely popular motivational speaker and author, has set up Highpoint, a small city where he has invited all his disciples to come and live with him and undergo intense training away from the cares of the world. Walter has a fairly clean past, and everything about Highpoint is above board-or so it seems. A young man is missing from the city and from his hometown, and Walter Simmons claims that he was sent on a solitary pilgrimage because of mental issues. But things begin to hit home for Timothy when he hears that his daughter has join this cult like village and believes every word of what Walter says. When the agents begin poking around Highpoint for clues, the Highpoint authorities begin to get suspicious and attempt to arrest them. No one seems to know where the young man is, and things around Highpoint are getting very fishy. Tim is forced to join forces with his ex-wife in order to find their daughter-before it's all too late.

Unfortunately, anyone can write a cult plot like this. The idea behind this book is nothing new, but very run-of-the-mill. However, typical cult themes such as ritual sacrifice, mass suicide, and sensational spirituality are missing. Walter's cult is very down to earth and very possible, but the plot is still very typical.

Missing are good characters with imperfection and personalities. Each character is a typical, made-of-a-mold stereotype. Tim is the un-believer and skeptic who comes to grips with faith in the end. John, from Rolling Thunder, is, of course, the Christian mentor. Tim's ex-wife fills out the romantic subplot. Tim's daughter is a victim. Dr. Walter Simmons is an evil villain. I'm so tired of evil villains. It's not realistic. This book could have been a lot better if Walter had just been a confused man. In the end, he turns into a psychotic maniac.

Only one original thing happens at the end, but it is brushed over and completely covered up by a truckload of perfection so that one barely notices it. From the Belly of a Dragon is definitely a drop from Rolling Thunder, which is a common mistake authors make in series. They think they have to write a sequel, and it turns out to be junk because with the first book they had a great idea and the second is written for the sake of reusing the characters. Authors need to learn how to censor their writing and only write books that are revolutionary.

2.5 stars

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