John Felton, prototypical husband, father of two, and real estate salesman, is interrupted while eating breakfast, by a disturbing stranger who asks for his help with a stalled car. John's assent, an automatic if grudging gesture of politeness leads him into a string of disastrous events, including a tabloid worthy crime spree in which he is an unwitting accomplice to robbery, kidnapping, arson and murder. More unnerving still is the stranger's stony-faced, near convincing contention that each barbarous crime is an act of kindness and protection.
Meeting Evil starts out innocently enough with a brief introduction to the main character, John Felton, and presents a picture of suburban normality as he goes about his everyday activities just like on any other Monday morning. But then, as you turn to page four or five, you read about John Felton hearing his doorbell ring. From this point on Thomas Berger does not let his character stop to take a full breath – and the author has masterfully written this novel in such a way that the reader feels breathless as well. The adventure that John Felton embarks on (not so willingly) is a rollercoaster of action, but it is also a journey in which John Felton must explore his feelings regarding social responsibility and ethical behaviour.
Thomas Berger has created a voyage for his protagonist, which is much like a Choose Your Own Adventure book come to life. John Felton is given many choices throughout his story and also several chances to change his mind. However for every choice he must make there are myriad consequences. While reading Meeting Evil you begin to question what you yourself would decide for any given situation, and the judgements and decisions you come to may change how you look at the world and yourself.
This review has been a hard one for me to write, I have been thinking on the best way in which to present this novel in a positive light without giving away any of the plot. In the end I have decided that this rather small review is all that I am willing to reveal, mainly because I personally enjoyed this book tremendously because I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I opened to the first page. If you have ever been in a situation where you chance upon an unknown (to you) book and start reading it only to discover a wonderful treasure – then you will have some idea of how I felt when I found this book.
As readers we should all remember that sometimes the best books are the ones we aren't even looking for.
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