Darryl Nyznyk,
The Condor Song
(Cross Dove Press, 2013)

I am a sucker for a Dan Brown novel. The way he creates the tension in his thrillers and marries fiction and reality attracts me to his writings. I love the way he leads you to think a problem is resolved, only to have that view shattered on the next page.

Darryl Nyznyk's The Condor Song follows in the Dan Brown tradition. Condor Song is billed as an environmental legal thriller and certainly lives up to its description. Although a fictional novel, we can easily understand the tension created when shadowy investors and an aging tycoon try to wrangle the land necessary to establish a huge, family-owned ski resort community in the pristine Sierra Nevada mountains. The inherent clash between developers and environmentalists, with a possible sighting of wild condors, is an all-too-familiar one these days with pipelines and fracking companies in the news daily.

Nyznyk easily manages to engage the reader in the characters' lives from the beginning. I found the first several chapters a bit tedious, setting the scene for the complicated plot. But the rest of the book was a compelling read.

The reader alternately finds himself rooting for and disparaging the actions of the main character, formerly disbarred lawyer Sean Donahue. Having lost his wife and kids through divorce, lost his job when he would not represent a fraudulent claim and lost his self-respect with his disbarment, Donahue scratches back to reclaim what he's lost with the help of Darla, the niece of murdered environmentalist Buck Anderson. He fights for an old neighbor in an eminent domain lawsuit brought by his former law firm and some shadowy figures pushing the agenda with murder and deceit. Once the Sierra Club gets involved and the law firm realizes that their former partner is a substantial threat to their case, the mood of the novel moves so quickly, and with so many twists and turns, that you don't want to put it down.

You really can't predict the end of the novel at all, for just when it seems you know how it's all going to turn out, there's another plot twist!

I recommend The Condor Song for a realistic thriller, reminiscent of Dan Brown. It is a worthwhile investment of your time -- and you'll want to start reading it early. I predict you won't want to sleep until it's finished.

book review by
Anne Tenaglia

21 September 2013

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