2017-05-18 / Top News


An alliance of necessity in a world where loyalty is bought and sold

¦ “Shining Path” by William Schnorbach. Aristos Press. Hardcover, $29.95; trade paperback, $17. ¦ “Shining Path” by William Schnorbach. Aristos Press. Hardcover, $29.95; trade paperback, $17. Billed as “A Lone Wolf Thriller – Book One,” William Schnorbach’s book is a piece of novelist history that sets several fascinating characters against the turmoil in Peru born of corrupt government and a brutal revolutionary force named Shining Path by its founder, Manuel Ruben Abimael Guzman Reynosa (usually reduced to Abimael Guzman). He considered himself to be the fourth sword of Marxism, inspired by the Maoist third sword (following Marx and Lenin).

Mr. Schnorbach focuses his narrative on four months toward the end of a 12-year nightmare of violence for the Peruvian people.

The principal characters are U.S. Congresswoman Marta Stone, who plans to grab a Senate seat in a forthcoming election; a super-skilled and dangerous Native American undercover CIA operative and “sky walker” who uses the moniker Lone Wolf; and Antonio Navarro, a co-founder of Shining Path who knows the movement has lost its moral compass. The three form an alliance of necessity in a world in which loyalty is bought and sold.

SCHNORBACH SCHNORBACH After Marta is abducted in Lima and held as a prisoner of war, Lone Wolf (whose legal name is Josh Barnes) is assigned to rescue her. Antonio (hereafter “Tony”), also imprisoned, protects her.

The novel proceeds by rolling out an unhappy mix of action and exposition. The action scenes are stunning whirlwinds of sensory experience. Over and over, Lone Wolf’s special martial skills, offensive and defensive, are on display along with other brands of physical prowess and mental acumen. He is a great planner as well as a great improvisor. He knows how to beat the odds when his team is overmatched.

Lone Wolf, Marta and Tony must make their way through difficult terrain with insufficient nourishment and a determined, well-trained enemy. As they deal with injuries and exhaustion, the author handles the action scenes with great skill, offering vivid descriptions of the rugged environment and building pulse-racing tension from episode to episode.

Many of these scenes are spiced by voyeuristic passages that present the gorgeous, athletic congresswoman cuddling nude with one or both of her rescuers in order to counter the extremely cold nights. She shows unexpected courage and resourcefulness, taking a bite out of the ear of a sadistic and monstrous enemy named Lucho and otherwise standing up to the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of the operation that Lone Wolf leads.

Less effective are the scenes of background exposition. They are overlong, unconvincing and far too dependent on dialogue. Each of the major characters is given an extended monologue to inform the others about his or her background leading up to the present situation. The narrator attempts to engage readers in detailed explanations of the Peruvian political situation, but there is too much for readers to absorb. Conversations among the major characters, and sometimes among minor ones, framed in the service of having them inform one another about what’s going on seem contrived and aimed more at the readers than at the other characters.

There is an art to handling explanation and background material that the author has not yet mastered. Mainly, however, he just overdoes it. Readers get too much information. And all that marvelous, engaging action slows to a crawl.

The good news is that the character-defining action returns, and with it a resurgence of engagement and pleasure. All in all, this is a highly entertaining and informative novel. It is available from the major online booksellers and locally from Gene’s Books (Sanibel Island), Sunshine Booksellers (Marco Island) and the Naples branch of Barnes & Noble.

About the author

William Schnorbach, whose first book, “Einstein’s Garden,” came out in 2016, holds degrees from Emory University and the former AGSIM, now The Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. He is an international traveler who owned and operated an import/export business in Steamboat Springs, Colo., for almost two decades. He traveled extensively in Peru during the time that country was under siege from the deadly Shining Path guerilla movement. He lives in Naples and also in a remote beach shack outside Natal, Brazil, where he is currently working on his next book, due out later this year. ¦

— Phil Jason, Ph. D., United States Naval Academy professor emeritus of English, is a poet, critic and freelance writer with 20 books to his credit, including several studies of war literature and a creative writing text.

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