Walter Joseph Schenck, Jr., author
Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)
As terrorists launch continual rages of hate against an unprepared nation, Vietnam veteran Sergeant Abel Jarrett spends his days inside a military hospital mental ward, where he carries his war wounds with him twenty-four hours a day. But when newspaper headlines tell of a Birdcatcher, Jarrett realizes his past is coming back to haunt him in more ways than just flashbacks. Special Agent Ted Alignman has just been assigned to investigate a jihadist cult group's terroristic acts. As he immerses himself into the case, Alignman soon realizes the cult's leader, Mark Evans, knows Abel Jarrett. With the hope of eventually capturing Evans, Alignman arranges to meet with Jarrett, a former member of Evans's group, along with his psychiatrist. As Jarrett leads the men into his violent memories, featuring helicopter battles in the Vietnam jungles in 1972, he reveals frightening insight into a mystical world that sets a chain of horrific events into motion. In this suspenseful drama, a Vietnam veteran commissioned to help a special agent capture a terrorist leader sets out on a life-altering journey that will either guide him to redemption or to set him on an inescapable path into the Birdcatcher's net.
Formerly a second lieutenant, Private Abel Joseph Jarrett is on a quest to redeem a soul in this idiosyncratically powerful drama of the Vietnam War. An encounter with mystic Mark Evans persuades Jarrett that Vietnam will be the forging ground in the battle for his soul. Obsessed with the need to atone for the murder of an orderly under his command, Jarrett sees himself as a vacant personality controlled by an entity called the Birdcatcher. Jarrett's bizarre quest to escape from his void of isolation by absorbing the personality of another, as he did with the orderly, takes on increasingly surreal dimensions, with the dissolution of Vietnam providing a violent backdrop to his own struggle. As Jarrett encounters death, sex, and the blandishments of the Birdcatcher, Schenck weaves an odyssey that is both startlingly unique and virtually incommunicable. Despite some tendentious dialogue and Jarrett's excessive self-reflection, Schenck has delivered a tantalizing and startlingly original work.
- Kirkus Book Reviews, November 15, 2013, The Birdcatcher: The Formation and the
"A man's stories of Vietnam and his unique ability to absorb other people's personalities may help authorities locate a terrorist in Schenck's religious thriller.
. . .a brilliantly existential experience. . .Schenck's descriptions of war are remarkable. . .His views on religion . . . are refreshingly candid, openly examining different creeds and showing a person's redemption as an arduous battle, making the war setting all the more ingenious. . . Often searing and always provocative. . ."