The Tears of Nero by Jason Brannon
A madman called Nero. A deserted island. Poisonous snakes. A message in a bottle. A buried treasure chest. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse. A violin requiem by Mozart. A dinner party that wasn’t. Ravenous lions. A burning question: “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”
The story opens like a bizarre episode of the Survivor reality TV show. Five people who had been kidnapped and drugged woke up on the sandy beach of an unknown island. The sinister tone is set by a cryptic message in a bottle: “Dear lambs, I think God is mad at us. If you don’t believe it, look at your own lives for proof. You have all been punished to some degree. That is why you are valuable to me. You are here to help me understand why bad things happen to good people. You are part of an experiment in cosmic justice. You are here to help me come to terms with my own life and to set free the horses of Armageddon. You are all good people. As a result, expect bad things to happen.” Their “little predicament” quickly turned sinister at the appearance of dozens of poisonous snakes. Was someone just toying with them?
The author, Jason Brannon, has written a masterful work of suspense, mystery and even horror, as the story progresses and layer upon layer of the complex puzzle is peeled back to reveal an intense race for survival. But more was at stake than the lives of five people. A terrifying threat to millions was eventually revealed. How could this madman be stopped?
If you are attracted to knuckle-whitening, teeth clenching, eye popping, intense psychologically mind bending fiction that touches on horror, then this is a book you will love. There is an intellectual challenge as the participants deal with history, secret societies, supernatural elements, and criminal workings while trying to stay alive long enough to escape the island. But if you have trouble dealing with the eventual deaths of people you have come to know in the struggle for survival, then you should not read this book. The antagonist is evil incarnate and sadistic. Much of what happens on the island is unsettling and all too realistic. If you can deal with this, then there is an underlying message that will keep you from putting this book down, especially in the final chapters when additional twists to the story will take you by surprise.
This is not a genre I read very often. But I have read and reviewed one of this author’s other books and loved his writing style. It is tight, complex, intelligent, and purposeful. Like that other book, the resolution at the end of this story made the agony of reading something I’m not comfortable with completely worth it. Even after putting the book down, weeks later I was still thinking about the turn of events at the end.
About the author: Jason Brannon is the author of The Maze, The Cage, and other novels. His fiction features flawed characters trapped in dangerous situations that test and try their faith. He currently lives in Amory, MS. Visit his website at JasonBrannon.us
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”