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Chiuba Obele
The Orientation of Dylan Woodger: A Central New York Crime Story
Chiuba Obele, author
Dylan Woodger is a college student who is captured and tortured by the mafia. After amnesia obscures the last three years of his life, Dylan learns that he has stolen three million dollars from a ruthless mafia boss. When, how, and why – he doesn’t remember. But someone betrayed him and gave him a drug that erased his memory. He was then given over to be tortured. Determined to recover his memory, Dylan begins delving into the events of the past. But as each new piece of the puzzle falls into place, Dylan realizes that no one is who they seem . . . especially himself. There are so many unanswered questions. But first, Dylan must survive the torture.
Obele delivers an entertaining web of twists and turns in this New York-based organized crime thriller. After his mother drops him off in Utica, New York, to begin his freshman year at Hamilton College, Dylan Woodger wakes up alone in a cold wooded area with no idea where he is or how he got there. Bound, confused, and suffering from a suspected gunshot wound, Dylan has more questions than answers when he realizes years have passed since his last memory. Worse, he discovers he’s been implicated in stealing three million dollars from a dangerous Mafia boss, Big Max. Desperate to save his life and reconnect with his past, Dylan plunges into Utica’s criminal underworld in search of stolen money, the truth, and–most of all–revenge.

Mystery, intrigue, and confusion arise from the opening chapters as Dylan first questions his mother’s source of income before turning to the mystery of his own identity and how he became a wanted man. Readers are thrust into a rough Central New York as Obele provides a vivid description of Utica’s crumbling infrastructure and spiraling economy. The city’s seedy past and dismal present provides an appropriate backdrop for many dark themes, such as racism and organized crime. A chapter depicting torture and sexual assault in the first part of the story may give some readers pause, but Dylan’s resilience and plan for revenge quickly changes the tone, while propelling the story forward.

Obele has crafted an enticing tale that will keep readers guessing until the end. Dylan blurs the line between protagonist and antagonist as he lies, cheats, and kills in search of the truth. His involvement with white supremacist organizations and other criminal elements risk making his character unlikeable, but his redeeming qualities and the urgency of his story are enough to keep readers engaged in this high-stakes, unpredictable crime thriller.

Takeaway: Fans of gritty, organized crime thrillers will appreciate this story’s layers of mystery and intrigue.

Great for fans of: Dennis Lehane, Ashley & JaQuavis’s The Cartel Series

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A