Title: How Existentialism Almost Killed Me: Kierkegaard Was Right (The Max Brown Tetralogy) (Volume 4)
Publisher: Hough Publishing LLC
Publication Date: August 2016
How Existentialism Almost Killed Me: Kierkegaard Was Right–Trust Me–The Elephant Makes Sense
How well do we really know our “soul mates?” Apparently, not all that well as we find Max Brown continually surprised by his wife Sally in the deadly assignment that sends them into a succession of lethal confrontations.
In this, the fourth and final volume of the Max Brown Tetralogy, Max basks in comfortable seniorhood with money, prestige, and position, but whose wife is ready to chuck it for the challenge of finding the source of counterfeit drugs plaguing Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, these dangerous drugs are leading to the death of thousands, including the young and innocent, and Sally won’t have none of that. Worst yet, the trail leads them almost directly to the last vestiges of the Khmers Rouges, evil personified in western Cambodia.
Max and Sally alternately find allies and enemies in their quest to track down and eradicate the last of the KR, using what wits and small arsenal they can glean from those who know, but can’t or won’t, be involved in the fight. Sally becomes simpatico with an elephant named Prathida–lucky for her, as they journey from Thai brothel to Cambodian minefields and KR strongholds barely keeping ahead of the despots.
When Sally is wounded, Max must savagely carry on to eliminate the last of the despicable tribe, but decries collateral damage. Can he come to terms with himself and what both he, and his wife, has become? Or is their blundering overzealousness classified as mission accomplished enough to even the moral code?
The loss of the Scot hit hard–I came to love his character. In each of these volumes, Max has matured, and in this volume has become a protagonist of 66 healthy, capable years. He genuinely loves his wife, and better yet–supports her. They have a successful history together–an understanding that comes with having weathered both the good and the bad through the years. I am not sure why the reader needed to be a voyeur in their bedroom trysts, and I could have safely gotten through the book without the use of the four letter words, even given the intensity of the situation. (Trying to keep it authentic?)
The author uses a good bit of wit, producing a number of LOL moments juxtaposed with the seriousness of the situation. I particularly enjoyed his philosophical discussion questions and the answering arguments following most chapters. Also appreciated was the glossary of terms, though having a husband in the US Navy during ‘Nam, was familiar with most.
This is a book that rams home how inhumane a human being can be–while at the same time fights to provide some spark of hope for the masses. Powerful, thoughtful, plot; characters fleshed out until you can feel their pain. This is an intelligent, thoughtful read that could provide hours of emotional debate in any book club. I received the novel in exchange for an honest review. This one will blow you away!
Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars
The Author: Michael Bernhart is an award winning author of nonfiction (in the public health sector) with impressive credentials that include a PhD and four decades of international work. This novel is the final chapter of the chronology that attempts to follow the protagonist through the general life stages. His path to maturity changes his character in the previous three–and voice–from novel to novel. Indeed, Max here begins to test his character and mortality as he faces possible termination. Dr. Bernhart has infused his thrillers with a blend of wit and existential questions–major food for thought–and discussion. ©2017 Virginia Williams