Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review a Dangerous Past

We've got another Tribute Books blog tour happening this month, and I picked up a copy of A.F. Ebbers Dangerous Past to review.  Let's get started.

Book Blurb:
Senior Airline Captain Frank Braden is being stalked in his home town of Austin, Texas, by unknown assailants who must arrange his death to look like a suicide or an accident before a specific deadline. The assassins almost succeed several times, in the air and on the ground. In fact, Braden’s surgeon wife, Nicole, saves his life twice from ground assailants. Both of them don’t know why people are trying to kill him.

Later, he receives a message warning him not to attend a forthcoming Senate hearing in Washington. If he agrees he will receive a million dollars and his wife’s life. When Braden turns to the FBI and local police for help, they doubt his stories since they have been led to believe he is schizophrenic and suicidal, exactly what his assailants want the authorities to think.

Dangerous Past is a story of a man who must choose between doing what ought to be done or keeping his family alive by allowing a murderous and powerful Washington VIP to escape his past.

My Review:
Dangerous Past opens with a flashback to Vietnam with events surrounding Jack Braden.  Then we jump forward to the present day where younger brother Frank Braden is conducting himself in his everyday existence as an airline pilot.  Then all you-know-what breaks loose.

The next few chapters are explosive (literally) and exciting as Frank holds the lives of over a hundred passengers in his hands when attempting to navigate the landing of his damaged plane.  It isn't until later he discovers that it wasn't merely structural damage that brought down his plane - but a bomb.

And all fingers point to Frank as the culprit.

So not only is Frank having financial difficulties after huge market losses, relational difficulties with his wife Nicole, and facing an empty nest with both of his children off to college, but now he's grounded from his job and fighting an uphill battle to clear his name.  Then there's the question of who would be trying so hard to frame him, and why?  There was good development of the mystery surrounding Frank's credibility.

But after this is where the story started losing steam for me.  Inconsistencies started popping up starting with simple things like a green and yellow taxi shifting to a green and white taxi to bigger inconsistencies like the CIA destroying all records of an operation known as "Dragnet" but then Nicole brings up remembering Newsweek or Time breaking the "Dragnet" story back in the seventies, so obviously there are still records out there (plus CIA wouldn't be able to completely destroy files - they'd be "lost" or severely redacted, unlike what you see in the movies).  Senate hearings were presented more like a courtroom trial hearing.  Then the reader is asked to suspend reality too much when in broad daylight a helicopter is landed in Frank's backyard, and no one driving by the area or neighbors will notice?  Even if the neighborhood is divided up into three or five acre parcels, neighbors will notice when a large helicopter drops down from the sky and lands nearby - they'd hear it too, so the fact that there would be no official record of the flight doesn't mean there won't be witnesses who report it.

Then there's the fact that the antagonist is up for this big presidential appointment - but Frank thought he'd long died in Vietnam.  So for almost forty years this bad guy has been alive and in a position of power and yet no public references have been made of this man either in print or television.  This stretched credulity too much for me.

Point-of-view was all over the place within a scene (and we all know by now that is a hot button for me as a reader).  There were occasional shifts between present and past tense, and a few grammatical errors and missing words all writers tend to miss after staring at a page for months on end.  I can forgive that.  There were moments when I enjoyed the jumps back to Vietnam as Frank and his witness relived some of their mutual history.  Reliving a bit of history in fictionalized form was interesting to this reader.  But by the time we got to this back half of the novel, the story had already lost me and by the end it all felt anti-climactic.

But if you have any interest in the machinations of the Vietnam War (in fictionalized form) behind the scenes and that explosive opener of what an airline pilot goes through in an emergency, pick up a copy of Dangerous Past.

Author Bio:

A. F. Ebbers, a journalism graduate of Ohio University was a reporter/writer for major newspapers, ad agencies, and in public relations for Cessna Aircraft Company. He also graduated from Army Flight School and flew for the Ohio and Kansas Army National Guards. Later he was called to active duty and served two flying tours in Vietnam. After retirement from the military, he flew for corporations and for regional airlines. A dual rated ATP pilot, he has written for numerous national magazines, Sunday supplements and trade and travel magazines and has written screenplays and short stories. Today he lives with his wife in the Austin, Texas area and, when not writing, enjoys tennis, flying and piano. Dangerous Past is his debut novel. Visit his website at

Formats/Prices: Ebook ($0.99), Hardcover ($10.00)
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
ISBN: 9780978948238
Pages: 240
Release: May 1, 2007
Publisher: SilverHawk Books

Kindle buy link - $0.99

Nook buy link - $0.99

Amazon hardcover buy link - $10.00

Barnes and Noble hardcover buy link - $10.00

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  1. D A, thanks for taking the time to read and review A.F.'s book!

  2. Always glad to participate in a Tribute Books blog tour!