Not long ago, Stan Schatt contacted me via e-mail to let me know that he had released a new book. In his description of what it was about, he mentioned that it was a psychological thriller that delved into the paranormal that also included elements of technology. I will have to admit that I don’t normally stray too far from my normal reading fare of science fiction, but I have read Stan’s work in the past and have enjoyed it, and since he also took the time to inform me personally, I thought I would give it a look. I will say here that I was not disappointed; it’s good.
The story centers on Bill Eisner, a former lawyer turned coffee shop owner when he became disenchanted with the practice of law. Bill’s coffee shop is a unique place with a relaxed atmosphere and friendly employees. Bill also has it set up as a kind of community service, especially serving the downtrodden of the area. Beyond his business, Bill is a sports fan and a Trekkie, and with the help of his best friend Roger, he realizes that he is also needing some female companionship. Roger invites Bill to accompany him to a speed dating event, and more out of curiosity than anything, Bill decides to attend. He meets several women at the event, but none of them seemed interested in him until Amber sits at his table. Amber is a knockout, and she likes an answer to a question she poses to him and they exchange information.
What follows is a roller coaster ride that includes murder, attempted murder, text messages that apparently are coming from a dead person, technological and surveillance techniques both for and against our protagonist, police investigations, and a psychic that seems more credible that one might expect.
Hello Again grabbed my attention from the first page describing Bill’s apartment when the author mentions that he has a poster in his bedroom of Captain Kirk. From there it was an easy read. The exposition of the story seemed quite long to me as I was reading (nearly 40% into the book according to my Kindle), but then, BOOM! It was simply a delay to when the real action begins and is non-stop to the end. The exposition chronicled Bill’s developing relationship with Amber, which served to make me care about what happened to both of them. At the point when the “boom” happened, Bill’s otherwise mostly mundane and seemingly”normal” life(and I qualify that by including that there were a few strange happenings during the first part of the story) would change in ways that were fantastically bizarre, but at the same time, credible when one considers the technology that exists today.
One aspect, among many, that I enjoyed about this book was how the characters came alive to me. Right down to the most minor character in the story, they were all real people that I could relate to emotionally in various ways. Bill, the main character in the story, went through the full spectrum of emotional involvement from being mostly content with his life to being extremely frustrated, and finally resolving to come face-to-face with the source of his problems.
If there is a weakness in this story, I would have to say that as a “whodunnit,” I personally found it a bit predictable in figuring out who the antagonist would be. That being said, I also have to say that the predictability aspect, whether intentional or not, in no way detracted from my enjoyment of Hello Again. It was well worth the time.
If you are a fan of Sci-Fi and are looking for a diversion from your normal reading fare, I would recommend this to you as a fun, interesting, thoughtful, and well written look into something different or new.
Well, there it is…