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Brain tumor gives super sense, and adventure

 

Dean Angel, the protagonist of Lake Placid author Samuel Dean’s “An Untamed Sea Story,” is going through some difficult times. The former police officer has been forced into retirement, his marriage has dissolved, and his doctor says, “I’m afraid that it won’t be a good morning for you because you have a mass in your brain that is inoperable. This news is not good.”

One of the effects of Dean Angel’s brain tumor, however, is unusual and positive: The former law enforcement officer now has super-sensitive senses, hearing insects and smelling odors well below the usual threshold. And this is what drives the novel, an ex-cop who hears, smells and notices much more than he ever did, or anybody else does.

It takes him on a curious journey, becoming an avenging angel — perhaps the reason for his name — whose super senses discover crime and criminals. His good intentions leave a trail of dead bodies, however. And after rescuing a woman from a Pennsylvania motel, committing homicide in the process, Angel is pursued by the pornographers whose operation he has disrupted.

The second portion of the novel, Angel’s effort to escape from the criminals, leads the reader to the title’s “Untamed Sea,” for Angel’s escape route are the rivers and canals of New York state, and then the Atlantic Ocean.

Samuel Dean’s novel was a finalist in the 2020 Eric Hoffer Awards (“http://www.hofferaward.com/Eric-Hoffer-Award-category-finalists.html#.XxCsq21Kio8″>http://www.hofferaward.com/Eric-Hoffer-Award-category-finalists.html#.XxCsq21Kio8). According to its website, “The Eric Hoffer Book Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers.”

“An Untamed Sea Story” is creative. A brain tumor has a positive side, making evil sense-perceptible to the protagonist. But then the senses that allowed him to be the hunter are needed because he has become the prey. Dean Angel flees in his boat rather than a car, allowing the first-person narrator to speak knowledgeably of sailing and New York waters.

All of this will remind readers of television and Hollywood’s Dr. Richard Kimble, the fugitive’s fugitive. But Kimble is a more sympathetic character than Dean Angel. He always puts his freedom at risk to do good, though he escapes and comes back next week. Rooting for Kimble was always easy, but Dean Angel is a much less attractive hero.

Fortunately, a sequel seems likely, and readers can look forward to learning more about Dean Angel’s journey, both literal and personal.

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