Genre: Science Fiction; Thriller; Antihero/Superhero
“The Wraith is a violent, merciless, unstoppable costumed vigilante, known around the world for the bloody, often terminal manner in which he punishes crime. Zeke Whitaker is a WW2/Korean war combat vet, who was declared MIA/KIA more than sixty years ago. Chris Alexander is an arrogant, extremely self-assured inventor and industrialist who is often considered the “smartest man in the world.
These three completely disparate men share two things in common. First, all three have an invaluable and unique roll to play in saving Planet Earth from an impending disaster only they can foresee coming. And they also share the same artificial body.”
I have also reviewed these other titles from Robert M. Leonard:
‘The Alexander Gambit’ is the first book in a trilogy companion to ‘The Wraith.’ I absolutely loved ‘The Wraith’ so I was eager to learn more about the character in this series. I went in expecting it to be largely focused on the Wraith himself and although he does make a couple appearances, the story was more about Chris Alexander: another person inhabiting the same body.
After reading, I first thought I liked ‘The Alexander Gambit’ better, but I don’t think I can actually say that because even though both might center around the same body and arguably to some, the same person, each book is vastly different in its approach. That in the end makes them equally amazing to each other.
The story begins in an attention-grabbing scenario where Chris Alexander, an exceedingly intelligent business person, scientist/creator, and wealthy bachelor, is trying to have a normal week on vacation in Greece. Normal to such a creature as his vastly evolved being is meaning attempting to focus on being human for once. However, he soon finds that in order to save a teenage girl from drowning, he must relinquish that fantasy and make use of his powers.
During the ordeal, he chides himself on his choice of approach to the situation. What he could have done better versus his determination to make the rescue a somewhat believably human feat versus what he will gain from it personally versus how he shouldn’t think of it that way. His thoughts here are the first hint the reader gets about his true personality. And I’m not talking about his violent ‘alter-ego’ the Wraith.
The course of the story explains Chris’ motivations not only in life overall, but in each single simple encounter. In his own mind, and surprisingly to others to a degree, he doesn’t hide the fact that his goals are most often selfish, cold, and calculated, yet he also fails to realize that what he is doing for ‘the greater good’ stems from his own sociopathic brain.
Obviously since it is told from his (and at parts, the Wraith’s) point of view, the other characters don’t really see these tendencies and simply treat him as the charming genius he is. Even the reader, seeing the beginning hints and then the major flashing warning signs of his sociopathy, gets easily drawn into understanding his motives and seeing positivity in his goals, which is what makes him a great antihero. But by the time the ball is rolling, even I was thinking ‘oh shit, no, this guy is bad news.’
The author did an amazing job crafting Chris. Reading his story was like seeing the sociopathic web everyone around him was getting drawn into without being able to warn them. There are a lot of people, even psychopaths, who there is a sense that something’s not right. With Chris, however, only being inside his head reveals his true nature, a nature even he, himself, doesn’t truly acknowledge.
Throughout the book, Chris does try to make ‘normal’ connections with at least some people. It’s the accompanying emotions and alteration to his pre-planned purpose, albeit slight, that make you second-guess just how far removed he is. He takes on a lover and even becomes mentor and friend to the girl he saved. In his mind, he is upstanding because despite his initially self-centered reasons for saving her, he has done away with that in order to be a positive influence. Yet the reader sees his continued calculations and selfishness in this as well as his other actions, rising a fear for those he’s allowed close.
The danger he poses seems only visible to the reader as other’s cannot see the true scope of his mind and even Chris fails to realize what he is. He does, after all, release the Wraith from his cage in order to deal with his frustrations so he doesn’t have to succumb to them. Nonetheless, Chris is the one who sends him out, he is the one who puts their master plans into action, and in the end, he is the one who is the true threat.
There is a moment where that darker, violent side comes out. Chris immediately blames it on a fault in the body’s programming that has allowed the Wraith to bleed into his own. When he finds that this is not the case, he only briefly wonders about himself, soon pushing it to the back of his mind and carrying on, still justifying himself as separate from the killer that is the nature of the Wraith who needs to be controlled. Those witness to the event somewhat acknowledge that something is off, but ultimately find no threat from the man who has seduced them.
I think this is probably the longest review I’ve ever written, but when you come across a book with as much depth to it as this, it’s hard not to ramble. And this is just book one! The story is full of scientific curiosities, intense action scenes, endearing dialogue, sexy encounters, and incredible explanations as to the origins of each person associated with this one body. I really cannot say enough good about it. My personal suggestion is to read ‘The Wraith’ first, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it regardless.
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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