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All Through the Night
by Davis Bunn
Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minn.,
PB, 9-780764-205422 (2008), 360 pp. $13.99
Describing a pastoral setting, author Davis Bunn writes, "cardinals sang the only words the morning required." One of the characters in "All Through the Night" calls a meeting of retired people and when everyone shows up, proclaims himself "The Pied Piper of wrinkles." Another character, a beautiful Russian girl named Tatyana, is wearing a "business suit with a skirt so short, getting out of the Ferrari became a dance of the pinstriped veils." When Wayne, a former Special Forces with lingering memories of combat, is having coffee with a woman, "he sipped from the mug and struggled to knit his barriers back into place." As you can see, Bunn is never at a loss for words or a handy quip. A young street kid is also in the character list and is fondly called "Mr. Drive-By."
It is phrases such as these that bring together the cast of All Through the Night. The story begins with Wayne, having lead a wandering life after two tours in Afghanistan and suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome. His sister is a minister and gets him a job at a retirement community. The retirees believe someone has been playing around with their investments. Wayne happens to be accountant-trained, also, and before you know it, the plot thickens with Tatyana approaching him for her boss, who has a specific problem for Wayne to handle. Along the way, we go into Wayne's life, and see what-makes-Wayne-run. The side characters are interesting and include Jerry, a retired policeman; Foster, just plain retired; Victoria, the praying and church-going lady of the retirement community; Julio, a street kid everyone is trying to help, and people from Tatyana's past and Wayne's past. It is an intriguing mix and you learn about them, a morsel at a time. Nothing is thrown at you in a conflagration of words. As I read through the book, I thought the author was setting the character of Wayne to be the lead in a series of books, but apparently not. This book is listed as a novel.
The story centers on Wayne's relationships with the older people in the community, his own family, and the woman, Tatyana, who caught his attention, however, Wayne still has a past woman situation to confront. The female relationships are chaste for an action-packed book ranging from guns to explosives. Wayne has to confront his own inner turmoil and does this by helping others who can't help themselves. The characters are strong, so much so, that there is little need to describe anything else, such as room furnishings. Prayer is used as a way to release one's emotions. In fact, the cover art draws the reader in, with a picture of a young man, head bowed, deep in thought.
There is plenty of action here, some provided by a red Ferrari, a character of its own. If this were a film, your eye would be on the car. Just writing the word, red, dominates the environment. When Wayne goes into action mode, the reader is with him as a silent observer, as in "he rose to his feet, tested his spine, rubbed the spot where he was growing a pistol-shaped bruise over his right kidney, and recurled the lanyard."
Davis Bunn has been a novelist for over twenty years. The page-turner books have sold more than six million copies. He is currently working on a new series of books with Janette Oke. Davis Bunn is also the author of My Soul to Keep.
Reviewed by Marie Asner