Thursday, October 20, 2022

Book Review: The Narrows by Mark Zvonkovic

The Raymond Hatcher Stories have been at the top of my reading list this week!  As part of the Belinda book tour, I was given the opportunity to read the first three books of the series.  Today, I am sharing my review of The Narrows!  Check out this adult, psychological fiction novel, learn about the series and author Mark Zvonkovic, read my thoughts on this book--and plan to stop back tomorrow for my review of Belinda, the 3rd book of the series!  Be sure to enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.

​Book Title:  The Narrows (The Raymond Hatcher Stories/Book Two) by Mark Zvonkovic
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  306 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller 
Publisher:  Dos Perro Press 
Release date:  November 2020
Content Rating:  PG13: The book has a couple of non-explicit sex scenes and very mild violence.

About the Book

A harrowing extraction of members of a religious cult goes awry.

Junior high teacher Larry Brown teams up with experienced extractor nicknamed Black Lightning to rescue his cousin from a cult. But the mission is complicated by Larry’s unfaithful girlfriend and the drowning of another cult member in the Charles River. And then Larry’s cousin isn’t as willing as Larry hoped. These events work together on a day in a family vacation home on Cape Cod to turn Larry’s world upside down.

Spanning a ten-day period, The Narrows chronicles the personal and social challenges that took place during the cultural transformation of the 1970s.

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My Review


The Narrows is Less Thrilling than Psychological. I loved the first book in the Raymond Hatcher series--and looked forward to a psychological thriller in the same character-driven writing style. While The Narrows develops through its characters--it is extremely dialogue driven. Most of the scenes focus solely on conversations between characters, with many of those conversations feeling meaningless to the storyline. The constant dialogue does allow readers to understand the characters' views, experience the psychological drama at play and delve into the spiritual/philosophical ideas and the relationship dynamics driving the popularity of cults and social activities of the 1970s. While there was an air of suspense around whether cousin Bradley could be "saved" from the cult--this is more of a psychological family drama than a thriller. 


The Characters Drive the Novel. During the novel's first half, I skimmed many of the characters' conversations. The dialogue was long at times and felt trivial, lasting for pages without adding a lot to the plot or character development. About mid-way through the novel, the shift toward Bradley and the cult dynamics began to form, and the conversations became more meaningful and geared toward the actual storyline. The characters tell the story without much action or detailed setting development. I didn't love Larry's character--and felt that Millie was unnecessary and could have been summed up in a couple of scenes--but I did enjoy watching Larry begin to find his path in life as he dove into freeing Bradley from what was perceived as the wrong path.


Would I Recommend The Narrows? With a few mentions of characters and relationships from A Lion in the Grass, The Narrows is essentially a stand-alone novel as it moves the story away from Raymond into the Wright family and the sisters' family home. The stories are independent, and the two books' writing style is even a bit different. As with the first book, however, the author fully develops views and insights into historical and social aspects of the time through his characters. If you enjoy historical fiction with a bit of suspenseful drama and a lot of dialogue--this novel is a blend that works well to tell Larry's and Bradley's stories. I struggled a bit to settle into the account early on, but I did enjoy the insights and psychological aspects that brought the novel to a conclusion.

You May Also Enjoy These Other Books in The Raymond Hatcher Story Series:
​Book Title:  Belinda (The Raymond Hatcher Stories/Book Three) by Mark Zvonkovic
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  276 pages
Genre: Literary / Legal Thriller 
Publisher:  Dos Perro Press 
Release date:  June 2022
Content Rating:  PG13+M because it involves mature themes, occasional mild profanities, non-explicit sex scenes and mild violence.

"You will keep turning pages not just for the pleasure of his writing, but because you simply have to know what happens next." — Mark Pryor, author of Die Around Sundown and the Hugo Marston series

Belinda is a thrilling novel with gripping layers of legal and corporate intrigue, but it’s Zvonkovic’s character work and timely themes that propel the narrative to new heights. Part romance, part legal drama, Zvonkovic blends genres and defies expectations with each turn of the page, ultimately creating an emotional exploration of justice, purpose, and legacy.” — James Wade, Spur Award-winning author of River, Sing Out

“Fans of characters such as Tom Clancy’s John Clark, as well as other readers who are interested in the techno-thriller genre, should find Belinda to be a thoroughly captivating and satisfying read.” — David Loux, Author of Chateaux Laux   

“A spy thriller meets legal fiction meets romance novel.” — Kirkus Reviews

About the Book

Set in the conference rooms of a white-shoe Houston law firm and the stunning coastline of Baja California, Belinda is the story of a woman’s bravery and resourcefulness at the end of her brilliant career. Her decision to fight her firm’s men in suits who demand her retirement is called into question when a man once her lover appears after a long unexplained absence.

Against a backdrop of romance and legal drama, the novel explores questions about love, the law, and the anxious precipice of life change. Is it ever too late to be swept away by romance? Can true justice ever be attained when the law’s practitioners are corrupt? And when your work is what defines you, what’s left after retirement?

​During a week of surprises and abstruse events, Belinda sees the once presumed greatness of her life flicker as she forces the moment for her decision to a crisis. 
​Book Title:  A Lion in the Grass (The Raymond Hatcher Stories/Book One) by Mark Zvonkovic
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  333 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction 
Publisher:  Dos Perro Press 
Release date:  August 2020
Content Rating:  PG13+M: The book has mature themes associated with wartime violence and not-explicit sex scenes.

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About the Book

Set over the course of six decades, A Lion in the Grass documents the despair and hope of a spy who suffers the murder of friends and enjoys the success of mentoring protégés.

​The story is told through alternative viewpoints of Raymond, his protégés, and the French villain. The novel digs deeply into questions of love, self-doubt and hatred, all foisted upon Raymond during a career from which, he discovers, it is impossible to retire.

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About the Author

Mark Zvonkovic is a writer who lives in Rosarito Beach, Baja California Mexico with his wife Nancy and their two dogs. Finn and Cooper. He has written three novels, and he also writes book reviews and essays that appear in online publications. Before retiring to Mexico, Mark practiced law for thirty-five years at three multinational law firms in Houston, Texas and New York City. He attended college at Southern Methodist University and Boston University, and his law degree is from SMU School of Law. Mark grew up as an oil company brat and lived in Latin America, Texas and New York.

connect with the author: website~ facebookbookbub ~ goodreads

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