Title: The Tears of Wonder (Book 2)
Author: Peter A. Hubbard
As the world reels from the calamitous actions of the terrorists, Colonel PJ Anthony and his team, consisting of special forces and investigative services from around the globe, finally have the mastermind Mohammed Bin Azaria in custody. But has Bin Azaria already put Plan B into place?
The Tears of Wonder continues exactly where the first book left off, taking the reader straight into the interrogation of Bin Azaria and the subsequent debrief with all major players, including the US President.
It’s a good opening tactic, allowing for a subtle recap of events and reintroduction of the main cast. Whereas The Tears of Wonder was steered by Colonel Anthony, this second installment is undoubtedly Captain Jessica Riley’s story.
Anthony is still a guiding influence, but he takes a backseat to Riley, who grows in confidence and assertiveness. At the end of the novel, her actions in the underground prison on San Michele consolidate the ruthless streak that she begins to exhibit. This self-assurance and single-mindedness present the possibility of some interesting dynamics in the final book.
Riley’s interrogation scenes with the terrorists and their acolytes are compelling. Hubbard is excellent at portraying mind games through the nuances of body language and facial expression. The thrust and parry of the dialogue is paced perfectly to ensure maximum tension.
As the hunt for the perpetrators begins to narrow, two subplots emerge that take place in the towns of Port Roberts and Helena. These side narratives are gripping and suspenseful, introducing a greater element of subjective mystery and personal emotion.
They provide good contrast to the high-stakes power play and military maneuvers elsewhere in the book and bring to the forefront the new characters of Agents Fay Remer and Sandra Thomas.
Remer is an especially good addition. It would have been easy for her to have melted into the background as a younger, less experienced Riley. However, Hubbard gives careful consideration to her as an individual, creating a believable and cleverly integrated backstory that has scope to be revisited.
Indeed, several new personalities are introduced in this penultimate novel, and they each work with plausibility and interest. Among the adult refugee women, Farid Tremblay and Coleen Ferguson are particularly well-depicted with the right amount of vulnerability, guile, and intensity.
All the familiar faces from The Tears of Hope, such as Indigo, Arie, and Black Pete, progress with convincing arcs and maintain cohesion to lend a sense of reassurance to the story. Little threads and motifs are continued and expanded upon to give a clear sense of authentic development.
The degree of technological insight, strategy, and design in bringing this complex, yet connecting, web of intrigues to life, is inventive and credible. Further, the blending of fact and imagination concerning the nanotechnology aspect of the story is especially fascinating.
As with the first book, there is an unsettling feeling that the narrative is of the moment, which ensures compulsive reading. In addition, there are strong parallels with the current US political landscape, along with some thorny moral and societal dilemmas that are also contemporaneous.
Nonetheless, there are areas of superfluity and repetition and, in places, the book lacks some polish. The novel would have benefited from a more thorough edit to ensure correction of these issues and to give a stronger definition to certain plot features.
The Tears of Wonder is a worthy second episode in this ambitiously entertaining trilogy. Packed with action, loaded with conspiracy, and ending with a corkscrew of a twist, Hubbard showcases an extraordinary level of imagination, planning, and detail to present the next chapter in this exhilarating, innovative, and far-sighted thriller.
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