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Book Review: Children of the Sun & Earth by John Bennett

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ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
(to find this and other John Bennett novels, visit Hcolom Press)
In
John Bennett’s novel, Children of the Sun
& Earth
, an intelligent, steady-nerved young man and veteran named
Tobias climbs the rungs of power in the cutthroat world of drug dealing and
heavily armed Mexican cartels. By applying the right amount of respect and
confidence in meetings with the heads of the Morales cartel, the Huichol Indian
tribe, all the way to Pablo Escobar, Tobias sets himself up for the ultimate
showdown between the DEA, a Vietnam Colonel named Wild Harry Witherspoon, the top
drug lord in the world, and a team of highly-skilled Vietnam veterans.
Tobias comes from a long line of smugglers and
dealers who stretch back to the early 19
th century. Bennett’s
abundantly detailed history of drug trade hundreds of years ago is one of the
most fascinating parts of the book. A “half-breed Seneca” tells her farmer
husband that the other farmers are smuggling wool and whiskey. She notices the demand
for opium, and soon, with natural prowess, she begins moving the drug in from
Canada and makes a profit. But, with most risky, lucrative endeavors,
complications arise, competition moves in, and the operation becomes treacherous.
The novel is not only a story about the history of major
drug smuggling in America. It’s about brothers, destiny, and war. It’s about
the individual regaining his spirit and fighting the great beast of mediocrity.
        
Out of a large cast of extremely
well-developed characters with intricately interwoven pasts, Bennett’s novel
ultimately follows the lives of two brothers, Seneca and Tobias. Early on,
because of an altercation at school, when a “single act altered the direction
of his life; no, determined the
direction of his life”, Seneca is suddenly obligated to join the military,
where he excels and becomes a covert operative. Tobias, later on, gains
prominence in the world of drug dealing. Because of the high statures of both
brothers, their paths begin winding toward each other once again.

            
Years later, “…there’s a situation
developing on the home front that’s jeopardizing the way the intelligence
community works with the cartels,” a government agent briefs Seneca. “The
entire west coast,” he says. “Escobar took control of cocaine on the west coast
in 1980…. But he did it swift and clean, and so we let him have it. Then, in
’82, an organization sprang up out of nowhere and in a matter of months blew
Escobar out of the water. Whoever these guys are, they’re good…. There’s Nam
stamped all over it.”

            
How will the DEA quell this shakeup
of the drug world without alerting the public to their own collusion in the
drug trade? How will the U.S. government disarm renegade Nam vets who have been
trained by the very best? There is a constant jockeying for power between
forces mostly unseen or unrecognized by the average American, and all of the
forces are either tied into, or only capable of existing because of the
American war machine, both at home and abroad.

The Children of the Sun & Earth is a brisk read with one memorable scene after another. Its story and its characters will remain with you long after you finish the final page.

Find John Bennett’s novels, short stories, and shards at Hcolom Press. You can contact him, or get on his Shards list at[email protected]

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