When Shadows Come: Vincent Zandri
Shades of black, shades of grey and translucent white all are part of the world of Nick Angel as he tries to see the world through different eyes. Each day he struggles to find his way around and hopes that someday the blindness that has taken over his eyes whether permanently or temporarily will cease to hamper his life and give him back what the war in Afghanistan took away. His mind is alert his feelings are vividly described as we learn about his PTSD and related blindness. A Captain in the service and losing his sight on his last tour, he hopes to do more than just rekindle his relationship with his fiancée Grace in Italy. But, things do not always turn out the way you want and the author creatively creates the beginning scenes filled with humor, sarcasm and tension between the two characters. He adds in a touch of mystery and fear as Grace sees a strange man staring at her and Nick at several different cafes and the feeling is chilling. The setting is the romantic Venice, Italy the emotions are strong and the fear is not far from happening as they are in a restaurant talking and all of a sudden it gets quiet at his table and Grace is no longer there. How can someone vanish in plain sight and no one sees it happening? How can someone’s mind function when he has visions, pictures and images of the war that haunt him? The events are described and the village deaths devastating and Nick know has to use his sense of touch, smell, hearing and taste to hopefully overcome his loss of sight to find Grace. But, the police are not sure that he is telling the truth and the questions make you wonder whether they are going to really search for her, find out who the mystery caller is and keeps saying: I See when they answer and nothing more. The author makes you wonder if Grace left on her own, was really abducted or the shadows that come and go and the light that finally allows him to see at times is just playing with his mind.
The events of the war and the tragedies that he encounter haunt him as does some of the wars that he imagines within himself and his head. Befriending a waiter named Giovanni proves fruitful and learning about what might have happened to Grace from a short news story changes it all. But, why the police react to him in a negative way gives the reader much pause for thought. Detective Carbone seems skeptical and does not believe that Nick is being honest nor does he appreciate the fact that he hides that he can see at times and at times he cannot. The shades of black come often and then the light comes when he least expects it allowing him to focus more clearly and see the events for himself. But, each time he spots the man in the brown overcoat no one else sees him but when he and this waiter are in a church and spot him how does he disappear so fast and why does this person haunt him on the phone.
The shadows come and then the light shines and he can see more clearly but the world never looks the same each and every time. Going to try and find Grace proves futile, hampered by the police and almost as if they are trying to gaslight him into thinking he is losing his mind reminding him of his time in the war and thinking that he is imagining things. Finding the reporter might be helpful but will she be able to take away some of the clouds or shadows and send him so light. Each time someone tries to help him he falls prey to his or her wiles and at times gets injured no only physically but mentally too. Like a light bulb that is flickering and about to go out and another you hope to replace it with to see more clearly his world flickers, dims, goes out and then shines. How will Nick finally deal with the harsh realities of what really happened if and when the truth is finally revealed?
Nick seems to be caught in a world comprised of the war, his nightmares, and his emotional upheavals and trying to figure out whom to trust. When the police finally explain what happened to Grace and he sees it for himself will it bring her back? The war is real and what happened in Afghanistan haunts his dreams and waking hours that at times he sees things but is not sure if they are real. Illusions, visions, noises, nightmares and PTSD are all playing on his mind as he struggles to find himself and Grace and hopefully will unravel the puzzle and clear out the shadows and bring in the light. But, the author reminds us that things are not always what they seem and Nick has a long way to go before he can reconcile what happened in the war and then face the present.
The ending unfolds and the truth will blindside you as Nick becomes part of the kidnaper’s plan and what he finally faces you just won’t believe. Who is this man and what is his link to Nick and his past? What happened in the army that caused him to lose memory, lose his sight and get PTSD? The author uses italics to recreate the scenes within his mind that happened during the war, even in the present as his nightmares are real. The voice he hears and the person is real but who else is behind what happened to him and others and what is Operation Perfect Concussion? You won’t believe what the army did to him and you won’t believe the final ending. Who lives? Who dies at the hand of someone seeking revenge? Why did he really take Grace? What is her final fate? When the shadows come and are finally lifted will Nick ever see the light?
When his wife commits suicide what was the reason? Is what she did his fault and each time he relives what happened it is different making him wonder if she died because he failed to save her or because she did not want to live anymore? The author brilliantly creates the conversations between him and Karen and you begin to wonder whether Nick really saw Karen or he just saw WAR! Going to war and enlisting seemed to be his life but will he return again or will he finally realize what it has done to him and why? Can you take your memories and tuck them away? Can you relive the past and move on to the future? Told in the first person in Nick’s own voice allowing readers to hear his thoughts, get to understand his anger, frustrations and fears and realize that Nick Angel might not be an angel in his manner or demeanor, but he is one angel of a man that you want on your side.
The ending is quite compelling, explosive and enlightening as author Vincent Zandri takes readers inside the mind of a man who fights for his life, hopes to regain his sight and has to deal with his past hoping to break free and live in the future. When the Shadows are finally lifted what Nick see clearly?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine