“Shot Down,” is the second novel by Steven Sheiner, and this rollercoaster adventure keeps the audience constantly guessing. The reader’s attention is immediately grabbed when the story opens in the midst of events that turn Dr. Spero’s world upside down. From the opening onwards, interesting characters, contentious themes, and vivid language keep the pages turning through this wild ride.
Simon Spero was a mild-mannered optometrist and family man, fearful of an apparent rise in gun violence. He hoped never to use the gun he bought to protect his family. When events forced him to pull that trigger, the repercussions may see him ripped from his family forever.
Characters in “Shot Down” are interesting, and multi-faceted. Dr. Spero and his wife exemplify contented normality in almost every way, so exposing them to exotic perspectives (like those of his South African neighbor) rapidly opens avenues for conflict. Ever greater threats to Dr. Spero’s simple life lead to, at times foolish but, very understandable choices. This relatability permeates most of Sheiner’s characters and serves to keep the reader emotionally invested throughout the book.
The author shows multiple viewpoints of contentious modern issues such as gun control, rape culture, and the fear they arouse in average people. His non-political exploration of these issues reveals grey areas on subjects popularly portrayed as black and white. Sheiner uses the topics skillfully to bring depth and realism to the story, and present opportunities for personal contemplation should the reader choose.
A blend of perspectives adds mystery to events, while the main narrative is shared through the eyes of the good doctor. The combination of first and third person emotionally immerses the audience in Dr. Spero’s nightmares, waking and otherwise. Vivid imagery and language help fear, despair and infatuation radiate from the page. For instance, the over description of a particularly gorgeous woman whenever she enters a scene emphasizes her affect on Dr. Spero as his thoughts start to babble.
My only real concern is that at a certain point there are so many feints within feints it borders on confusing. A couple developments seem to come from so far out of left field it almost knocks the story off track. Fortunately, Sheiner is quite good at tying everything together.
I highly recommend “Shot Down” to any reader who enjoys seeing what happens to an average Joe caught up in a fast-paced action thriller.
Amanda King – November 25, 2019
Originally published on Reedsy Discovery
E-book provided by Reedsy Discovery for review purposes.