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Friday 5 June 2020

‘Ariel’s Island by Pat McKee

Published by Southern Fried Karma LLC,
9 March 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-970137-77-4 (PB)

It starts out as a legal thriller with the kind of drama in the courtroom that only the American legal system can generate – but Ariel’s Island soon transforms into something even more dramatic.

Paul McDaniel is a young and eager hotshot lawyer thirsting to make partner in the high-profile litigation firm he joined fresh from law school. When he gets the chance to front up the firm’s biggest case in years, and wins against all the odds, he thinks his career is made. But Paul was brought up in an orphanage and worked his way through college; he lacks the polish and worldliness a moneyed background buys. He soon learns the lawsuit wasn’t what he thought, and neither is the firm. He finds himself on the run, framed for three murders – and that’s when the real fun begins.

There follows a story with more twists and turns than a Disneyland rollercoaster. One minute Paul is on the verge of solving the mystery, saving the world and getting the girl, the next he has a gun to his head or the bad guys a few yards behind him as he flees yet again.

The result is a high-tech, high-octane thriller with drama on every page and a cast of characters who belong in a Bond movie. The locations are colourful and glamorous too, at least until they get blown up. There’s an island where every house has been built to order by someone with a bottomless pit of money and has a security system like Fort Knox; another with a weapons arsenal the SAS would envy; and a cabin in the woods which looks like an angler’s hideout but has tech to match NASA’s.

Paul McDaniel soon becomes a lot less naïve, although it’s a long time before he understands who to trust. Then there’s Melissa, beautiful heiress to the empire and billions Paul was trying to protect in the lawsuit that lit the blue touch-paper. Her half-brother Hector is shadowy and ambiguous; her uncle Antony is an out-and-out villain; and her father Placido is a genius with a priceless book collection as well as a cure for AIDS.

Then there’s Agent Grey and Rebecca, who gallop to the rescue more than once. And minor players who all jump off the page in full technicolor: Paul’s alcoholic mother, Tracey the ex-addict, and my favourite, Katie the randy postal worker are just a few.

And then there’s Ariel. Not heavy-duty washing powder, nor yet a sprite with magic at her fingertips, but with more power than either. Ariel is artificial intelligence at its most sophisticated. If it works by electronics, she can access it, and turn it to the advantage of whoever’s side she is programmed to be on. And she is on Paul’s side. To the bitter end.

There’s a final kick that will leave you gasping. It certainly has that effect on Paul. But even before you get there, you’ll find you’re holding your breath and gripping the arms of your chair more than once. Ariel’s Island is the kind of book that keeps you up till the wee small hours.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Patrick Walter McKee was born 6 February 1951, in Miami, Florida.  Following the death of his parents, he and his two younger brothers went to live at Thornwell, a Presbyterian orphanage in Clinton, South Carolina.  At Thornwell, Pat learned the discipline of hard work and the value of education. He graduated Valedictorian of his high school class in 1969. He worked his way through college, majoring in English and Philosophy, earning his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Georgia State University in 1973, and his law degree, with distinction, from Emory University in 1977, where he served as an editor of the Emory Law Review.  After graduation from Emor, Pat took a position as legal counsel at the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Later, in 1980, he took that interest to work at the Office of the Attorney General of Georgia where he rose to the position of Senior Assistant Attorney General, representing the University System and the State Board of Education and successfully litigating many high-profile cases. In 1980 Pat was recognized by his peers as being preeminent in his field. Two years later founded the law firm of McKee & Barge.   Pat has always been a writer, in high school, college, law school, and as a lawyer. In 2010 he enrolled in the Masters of Professional Writing Program at Kennesaw State University to hone his skills. At first his work took the form of a memoir, then he was encouraged to use his knowledge as a practicing attorney to write a legal thriller, and his first book of fiction, Ariel’s Island, is the result.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.


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