Update, 2/12/12: I received a comment that the author of this work is Jordan Riley, not Scott Cardinal as previously posted. Since the copy on my Kindle app denotes Scott Cardinal as the author (happy to provide screen shots as proof), I'm leaving the review as is but noting here that this book is currently available by Jordan Riley. I do not know why the author's name changed on the book.
When you hear the words "Beatles" and "conspiracy" in the same breath, more than likely the next words that come to mind are "Paul is Dead." As a mystery lover, conspiracy theories tend to fall under that umbrella for me, and I'll admit I've enjoyed searching for faux Paul clues on the Beatles LPs I still have in the basement. Recently I watched a "documentary" called Paul McCartney Really is Dead, which displays the more obvious clues (and plenty of obscure, reaching ones) with nifty animated effects while an actor badly impersonating George Harrison explains each one. Whether the film was purposely filmed to present this oft-told legend in a cheesy, laughable manner is up for debate, but since I began this blog I have renewed my interest in Beatles lore. A search on Amazon.com to burn my remaining gift card credit landed on the sale page of a story with an interesting premise: the conspiracy to kill John Lennon.
I am sure there are people out there who insist Chapman did not act alone, and that Lennon's death was engineered by the US Government to quiet his activist ways. After reading the description of this short, I decided to take a chance on this view of this tragic moment in history. The low price point (the eBook sells for 99 cents) was a factor as well, though now I must admit this story might be overpriced.
Nowhere Man opens in a dark cell where two men - Robert and Drew - are held captive by unknown forces for unknown reasons. While the narrative provides a vivid sense of place, the author's decision to use an omniscient, present tense point of view frustrated me. This is a matter of personal preference - I'm not fond of this particular POV - yet I continued to read through one character's puzzling soliloquy on life and death until a third character appeared to set the story into action.
Brooke is young and naturally frightened, and suffering memory loss. She has no idea why she is imprisoned, and her cellmates (apparently jaded after their own lengthy tenures) provide little comfort. She is suspected of being a spy sent in to coerce secrets from the men. One man calls her a "cold-hearted wench" (huh?), while the other drops hints of his association with the Beatles.
This pretty much set the tone for two-thirds of the book. The hysterical Brooke screams and claws for a way out, while her companions tease and drop Fab references that don't gel with the story. After reading several pages of this, I start to wonder if the Beatles factor into the story at all, and it isn't until the last several pages where Drew finally reveals his connection to Brooke in a conversation that appears sorely out of place. The story's conclusion proves more confusing - the abrupt ending left me wondering if this poor girl had been punked.
One reason I believe Nowhere Man doesn't work is because it literally goes nowhere. The only interesting part of the story happens by way of hearsay. Had the author endeavored to write a story with Lennon as an actual character, taking part in the events that shaped this conspiracy, he might have had a more interesting story. As written, we leave with more questions, none of them answered.
The Beatles are no strangers to fiction. There are many novels based on their lives, some of which will be reviewed here, but if you are a fan thinking Nowhere Man brings something of relevance to the genre I think you will be disappointed.
Rating - F