The Flame by I.D. Martin – review

THE FLAME (Tales of the Shehkrii, book 1) by I.D. Martin
MC Writing, 2011, 438 pages, B005CXUO0Q, Kindle Edition, $3.99

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Ripe with multiple, interlocking plot lines, a vast cast of characters, and a healthy mix of action and mystery, I.D. Martin’s The Flame does not lack for excitement. The author has successfully created a world where cyber warfare, eco-terrorism, gun-running, and journalism all mesh into one grand cornucopia of chaos. The main character, journalist Mark Todd, has been on the trail of his nemesis, Paul Gareth, for years. Gareth is an international gun runner and repeat eco-terrorist. His actions have also put him on the CIA’s radar.

At the book’s opening, Todd is closing in on his target. Meanwhile, dark forces move behind the scenes, engaging in a game of espionage that draws in the CIA, a secret Australian government agency, and the Shehkrii, wielders of a hidden human heritage. The Flame is a brilliantly woven novel that will take readers from the expansive realm of cyberspace, to the distant fringes of the Earth in an exhilarating journey through what it is to be human, and what it is to be “good.”

The Flame’s main character, Mark Todd, is quite and original character. A grumpy but brilliant journalist, Todd’s intense drive to complete the task at hand is commonly mistaken for a lack of interest in any matter outside of his work. He also does not play well with others. It is exactly this intense drive of Todd’s, coupled with his solo, gung-ho attitude, that draws him into a deadly game of cat and mouse with some of the world’s most notorious criminals.

Though The Flame is a well written book, its large cast of character can get confusing. In the first few chapters the reader will be introduced to about half of the book’s ensemble. I found this to be a daunting way to begin and had a hard time keeping everyone straight. In such a large scale game of espionage, not knowing which character is which can lead to some serious confusion. I understand, however, why Martin used such a large cast–it was necessary to tell the story in its full glory. Despite the confusion, cutting out some of the characters would likely have lessened its believability.

Martin, in writing this novel, interweaves multiple plot lines to form one overarching theme. As with any book that tries to complicate the plot to add a sense of reality, this weakened the main plotline within the story, and, at times, it was difficult to follow each individual storyline. In the end, however, Martin brings them all together to form his dramatic, violent conclusion.

The author, I.D. Martin, is Australian. His biography mentions that he is interested in anthropology and history and how they collide with technology, a fact that becomes self-evident in The Flame. Martin’s successful combination of human heritage and modern day technology lends his book a unique flavor–one I will not soon forget. This is the first time I have had the pleasure of reading a book by an Aussie author, and I can say that I would gladly pick up another.

Though daunting at the beginning, and confusing at times, I.D. Martin’s The Flame was an entertaining read. The combination of fast-paced thriller, in-depth mystery, and all around original storyline lead to a unique reading experience.

Thank you to I.D. Martin for providing a review copy of this novel.

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