Book Review: The Speed of Life by James Victor Jordan
An intricately woven tale questioning free will, destiny, and the laws that govern the universe.
This novel’s a unique blend of family dynamics, courtroom drama, old high school ties, war and peace, astrophysics, shamanism, and crime (rape, drugs, blood diamonds, racketeering, and money laundering) tells an epic tale which leaves readers questioning how much of their lives they can determine and how much is written in the stars. The diverse cast of characters woven throughout the pages both fail and triumph in their struggles against a host of tribulations. Their lives intermix, bumping and colliding through the years as the story jumps between the Florida Everglades and the California coast.
This story was told from the point-of-view of so many well-developed protagonists, I struggle to name the main character. There was Estella, a South Florida Federal Prosecutor whose staunchly protests the guilt of Andrew, her 20-year old son charged with instigating her rape. Her mother Betty Mae, sister Charlotte Crow and grandparents Sarah and Marcus offer a glimpse into the supernatural world of the Seminole shaman against the backdrop of the laws of astrophysics. It's a unique combination of views well crafted and juxtaposed, leaving the reader to consider points about reality, free will, and destiny.
Jordan displays his personal expertise as a trial lawyer with his depiction of Georges growing from a high school boy into a successful trial lawyer. Portraying what goes on both in and out of the courtroom was a masterful touch by Jordan, providing insight to the uninitiated public. Watching Georges grow up, strengthen and lose friendships, and fall in and out of love, I sympathized and identified with him the most. He was my favorite character.
We love to hate characters such as banker Al, whose apathetic, trusting nature leads to his downfall, Ryan, the too-good-to-be-true rich and powerful businessman, and United States District Attorney Aurora, too tough for her own good until, through witnessing her friends' struggles, she realizes there is more to life than work.
Jordan’s voice is diverse, with some scenes displaying short, witty dialogues while others are rich with description. From courtroom battles and budding love to violent crimes and the steamy waterways of the Florida Everglades, each section in the book is vividly depicted and unique. My favorite line in the book: The road, slick in the liquescent air, running before them like life accelerating across its span, vanished beyond a veil of gray mist descending from the firmament, a bulwark against the onslaught of on-rushing time, a horizon beyond which lay either hope or its abandonment.
And so, The Speed of Life: An Illustrated Novel enters the ranks of Five Star novels. I have never read a story with such an elaborate mix of characters and story-lines, each fully developed of their own accord and then braided together with unexpected overlaps and relationships that keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page. The fluid movement back and forth in time and between characters was unique, making The Speed of Life stand out from other crime fiction. For a first-time novelist, Jordan’s polish and delivery is unrivaled. I look forward to his next novel.