“Snow on the Golden Horn,” by Walt Breede. AuthorHouse. 228 pages. $14.90 hardback, $9.90 paperback.
While asking readers to accept more than the usual amount of improbabilities and questions of motive, first-time novelist Walt Breede has fashioned a rousing story of international intrigue and mayhem. What is unusual and charming in this retired Marine officer’s book is how he blends an idyllic portrait of American small town family life with a harrowing tale of abduction, chicanery in the art world, Turkish delights and menaces, and Russian Mafia operations.
Mr. Breede’s protagonist is Alan Llewellyn, like the author a retired Marine officer who is enjoying life as a high school mathematics teacher and coach. As a sideline, Alan hires out as a mathematics consultant. His family life is enviable, his professional life is satisfying. His military background, including years stationed in Turkey, is a receding pool of memories. Unexpectedly, one of his consulting clients, defense contractor Sam Whelan, asks him to accept an unusual assignment.
Sam Whelan’s younger sister Andrea, an artist whose reputation is on the upswing, has disappeared from her home just outside of New York. Sam asks Alan to provide a mathematical estimate, based on available facts, of where she is likely to be. And he offers him plenty of money to do it. Overcoming his reservations about taking time away from his family, Alan, the narrator of the chapters in which he appears, accepts.
In alternate chapters narrated in the third person, Mr. Breede allows readers to follow Andrea Whelan’s situation. We witness her abduction to Istanbul where she is essentially imprisoned in luxury and offered a great opportunity that she literally can’t refuse. A major art dealership with wealthy clients wants her to create original artworks to order. Their customers will pay astounding prices. In addition, Andrea is asked to make copies of other artists’ works which she is assured will be sold as copies and not forgeries. Hmmm. Where can it go from here? Andrea is worried.
Alan’s early explorations and calculations suggest that there is a 60% chance that Andrea is now in Turkey. After a detective Sam hires to investigate further produces no useful result, he persuades Alan to take the next step and assume the investigator role. The price is right, and after Alan assures his wife and daughter that everything will be okay, he arranges trips to Turkey that will not cut into his school responsibilities. More and more, Alan draws upon his military experience and skills to pursue the facts and find Andrea.
To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in all four editions of the Florida Weekly for March 9/10, 2011, click here: Florida Weekly – Walt Breede.