Verdict: CELEBRITY CAST features compelling prose and plot, with a fresh setting that is inherently interesting, peopled by a riveting cast of characters.
E.E. Zachary, a well-known crime thriller novelist, and some of his old friends go fishing in the remote lakes of the Soviet Union during the days of its collapse. One of the men, extremely wealthy and dying, is taken hostage by a mysterious group of terrorists, and it is up to his friends to figure out who took him and why, and get him home safely.
The entire novel is set in the unique and inherently interesting backdrop of the Soviet Union in the days of its collapse. This makes it seem all the more ridiculous that four men would venture there from the United States just to go fishing—especially since one of the men has late-stage cancer and must bring his doctor with him on the trip. But it also effectively conveys just how important fishing is to these men, without any clunky expository dialogue.
The novel, which even in its title promises celebrities, withholds the urge to use typical movie and sports stars. Instead, it features a much more riveting cast of characters: a crime thriller novelist, a billionaire and his sexy doctor, and a TV news personality and his teenage son. These characters come from very different backgrounds and have very different occupations, with just one thing in common: their love for fishing. And the oddity of their positions, just like the setting of the precarious USSR, is interesting because it is fresh and different, and makes the reader sit up a little taller when they begin to read.
That said, the most disappointing element of CELEBRITY CAST is in the lack of a compelling voice. It can be difficult to tell apart the many characters, not because they’re poorly introduced or have no discerning characteristics, but because they all sound the same, which makes a novel with this many characters difficult to follow. The most vivid is Dr. Laxmi Gupta, the very attractive oncologist who tags along to take care of her billionaire patient, and most of her character stems from being the only woman in a group of men.
CELEBRITY CAST features compelling prose and plot, with a fresh setting that is inherently interesting, peopled by a riveting cast of characters.
~Jess Costello for IndieReader