Foreword Reviews

Accidental Encounters

Clarion Rating: 2 out of 5

Tender takes on brotherhood and meditations on fate enliven this political thriller.

Coincidences and the bonds of brotherly love direct George Friesen’s political thriller, Accidental Encounters.

The Bigelow brothers, Dave and Bob, are estranged from one another, but they separately become enmeshed in a battle between the drug cartels of the US, Mexico, and Turkey that reaches the highest rungs of the Turkish government. Bob, a small-time drug dealer, becomes an unwilling informant for the FBI; his lawyer brother, Dave, works with the US Department of Justice to end the drug cartel’s money-laundering ring. Kidnapping, murder, and mayhem ensue.

A study of the nature of coincidence plays a role in the novel. Events sometimes strain credulity, but still invite examination of the concept of accidents. Dave investigates a Mexico City bank on the same day that Bob picks up five million dollars there; the brothers end up in the same restaurant on the same night. Chance, family connections, and fate are all equally plausible reasons for the events that follow. Other coincidences dot the book, in similar encounters with characters being in the right place at the right time.

Active and descriptive, the text alternates short, snappy sentences with longer ones, moving quickly and holding attention. Dialogue is stilted and overly formal, though, particularly in speeches from non-Americans.

Minor characters often have the same weight and stage time as major characters; it’s not always clear whose story this is. Neither of the brothers is in every chapter, and the shifting spotlight sometimes makes it seem as though tertiary figures are ultimately more important than they are.

The inclusive cast and fresh story line, with its focus on understanding life events as either chaotic or plotted, results in a ponderous work. Every action and remark carries weight. Fate and accidents lead to unfortunate events, and poor, hapless Dave frequently causes harm while attempting to do the opposite.

The tension-filled opening—in which a Mexican governor and a cathedral full of people are taken hostage—is compelling, though the related story line is anticlimactically resolved two thirds of the way through the book. The novel struggles to regain momentum afterward, never quite achieving it.

The novel’s denouement spans chapters, with many characters receiving their rewards or punishments in a way that feels contrived. While everyone’s future (or lack thereof) is accounted for by the story’s end, the ending itself is abrupt.

Tender takes on brotherhood and meditations on fate enliven this political thriller.

Reviewed by Drema Drudge

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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