Written by: Joe Hempel
From the cover: A young chess hustler goes on the supernatural adventure of a lifetime when he meets Mortimer Blackwell, a strange elderly man, who grants him an irresistible gift.
Sam is a chess player. He plays some tournaments, but mostly he hustles around Santa Monica, California. He wins a majority of his games, and this gets the attention of a gentleman that goes by the name of Mortimer Blackwell. He has a special gift to offer him, one that will gain him riches beyond his wild imagination.
If you don’t know anything about chess, don’t let that deter you from the story. Derek does a good job of using his knowledge of chess and describing the on board action without being overly descriptive and losing readers that do not know how to play.
As the story progresses, Mortimer seems to be hiding something, and Derek does a good job of keeping the tension going over the course of this story. He only reveals what you need to know to keep the story moving, and just enough extra to keep you plowing through to the end.
Sam begins to make money due to the gift bestowed upon him by Mortimer, and soon moves his gaming to Las Vegas, where there are some high stakes poker games that he could win. It was there that he meets a woman that his new powers do not work on. A dealer named Katie. They find they have much more in common than they realize and soon fall in love.
The love story between the two is written well in the short time that the pages allow. You do feel their emotions and their troubles as the story moves along.
You can’t really talk a whole lot about what goes on in this story as there are some twists and turns along the way that would take some enjoyment out of the story if I did spoil it, but the mechanics of showing us the emotion, and building the suspense, and keeping the action flowing during the action scenes are all woven together in a nice package that doesn’t feel forced.
You get the sense that something dark is going on behind the scenes, something that Sam isn’t fully aware of, and you are led on just a tiny bit….enough to peak your interest, but not enough to give things away.
All in all the characters drive this story. They are well written, and Derek really makes you feel what they feel. All the insecurities they have are impressed on to you, the reader. It’s a difficult task to do in such a short time, but he does it well.
You won’t spend a ton of time reading this, but you will enjoy every bit of what you do read.