Today I'm reviewing the novel Chasing The Wind, by Norma Beishir, written with considerable backup from Collin Beishir, who assisted with research. I've recently read the revised edition of the book, now released, which has been changed from third person point of view to first person, and the end result is an astonishing, powerful, and intimate story. The book follows a couple, Connor Mackenzie and Lynne Raven, as well as a number of other characters, telling an epic, sprawling tale of good versus evil through their eyes. The novel touches on archaeology, faith, destiny, and love throughout, intriguing the reader while taking them on a journey that touches down in places like Britain, Italy, Jerusalem, the Sinai, and New Zealand.
Lynne Raven is an archaeologist seeking physical proof of the Biblical Exodus in the Sinai. She's often far from her home and family in America, occasionally feeling the notion that time is catching up to her. Her work begins to be funded by Connor, who meets her by chance, finds her intriguing, and accompanies her to the dig site. He's a man of many secrets and difficult family relations with a sister, Sarah, and step-father, Edward. We find ourselves wondering at first if he's mentally stable. It's a question Connor himself wonders. He's a man who keeps himself at a distance, closed off from the world, the pain of his mother's death an overwhelming factor in his life. He also has, as we gradually see, an innate ability to heal with his own touch.
Gradually Connor and Lynne fall in love as they get to know each other, as Lynne gradually gets him to open up to her. Their courtship, such as it is, is filled with lightness and humour, Connor going out of his way to openly flirt with Lynne and win her over, and they marry. It doesn't take long before they're expecting a child, but circumstances quickly send them on the run. Violence follows them as the secrets of Connor's past and his family's connection to a man of pure evil catch up. They go into hiding in New Zealand, and Connor finds himself at a point where he must make a fateful decision about his future, and that of his wife and their baby son. It requires him to come to terms with the true nature of who he is and what he's meant to do.
The love between Lynne and Connor is the emotional core of the book, and it works wonderfully. There's such a sense of believability about the couple, a feeling of genuine connection and love. They're suited to each other, and as they deal with the chaos, heartache, and losses that the story throws at them, we find ourselves very sympathetic to them. And by extension, the way each character reacts to the events surrounding them feels true to their personalities. Lynne is a woman of faith with good family ties who accepts; Connor must go through the purging by fire, figuratively speaking, to accept what fate has in store for him.
The strong characterization extends to the various other characters that populate the book. If Connor and Lynne represent the good of the book, then their counterparts representing evil are more then a match. Nicholas Dante is a sinister presence in the book, a man of cruelty and evil who has a facade of respect, and yet is a man of no redeeming qualities. He orchestrates and pulls strings, seeking to control Connor for his own ends and his own beliefs. His hired enforcer is a memorable villain named Judas Caine, a brutal psychopath who has none of his employer's refinement. Caine is the sort of man who enjoys causing the most amount of pain he can, a sadistic hitman whose actions are, to say the least, profoundly disturbing. While I have, in the past, enjoyed villains with at least something sympathetic in their nature, I find these two-utterly unsympathetic and the very definition of pure evil- to be very compelling.
There are a number of other characters that I rather liked throughout the book. Phillip Darcy is a photojournalist who happens to count Lynne among his various ex-wives (his pet name for her is Duchess, a touch I rather like). He's a likeable rogue with a chaotic personal life, and he's rough around the edges. I liked his personality, his way of sparring with pretty much everyone. He comes into contact with Lynne and Connor in the Sinai, where events occur and strange discoveries are made that cause him to start asking some very serious questions. Caitlin Hammond and Jack Farlow are a pair of FBI agents looking into several missing children cases that tie into the larger story, and their investigation brings them into Connor's orbit. Their rapport and dialogue is well written, and has the same genuine feel to it that the rest of the book has. And Connor's sister Sarah is a revelation as a character. She starts the book off as cold, hostile, and perhaps coming across as emotionally unstable, and her journey through the novel brings her to a very different place.
The novel deals with weighty themes throughout. History plays out in its pages, as do the themes of good versus evil, the acceptance of destiny, and the struggle with coming to terms with faith. There are harrowing, horrific moments in the book that will have you shuddering (a speciality of Mr. Caine, you see). And there are moments that will make you laugh. Chasing The Wind tells an epic world spanning tale that manages to be a very intimate, personal story of the love between a man and a woman. It's a terrific, compelling book that you're going to love reading.