Storm Gathering: Prequel to the Splitting Storm
When airline ticket counter attendant Taylor Franks considered the mayhem that would momentarily ensue once the "delayed" sign above her head was activated, she felt sick inside. Anticipating the mad rush of the crowd, the angry responses, the irritated passengers, and the subsequent reassignment nightmare to follow, it was no wonder Taylor hesitated to make the announcement. It wasn't long before her inner misgivings were proven correct.
An angry displaced passenger began berating Taylor for his delayed flight; as the altercation rose, airport police arrived to handcuff the man but not before Taylor faces him off. On this dismal note, Taylor is asked to leave her post --- but what no one knew was that this single standoff would catapult a series of events that would forever change Taylor and those who lay within her path.
Enter perpetually dueling brothers Aaron and Mick Kline. The former is a police officer, a Christian, and the good boy of the pair; the latter is the handsome black sheep and rebellious brother. After a physical battle of both the will and the body, the brothers retreat per usual and go their separate ways, each licking his own particular wounds. What neither realizes is that a single choice will force both of them to face up to their past, their present, and their future as brothers and as men.
Of course, this duo must be battling over something significant --- and that something has a name: Jenny, the now fiancée of Aaron and former girlfriend of Mick. Despite their ongoing terse and tense interactions, both Aaron and Mick understand that it isn't only Jenny who's been the dividing wall between them. It's God --- Aaron's God --- and Mick's resistance to anything pertaining to matters of faith.
With this foundation of exploited emotions and scarred psyches in place, author Rene Gutteridge sets the scene for a tale of suspense and intrigue. She skillfully employs both realistic dialogue and believably sympathetic characters to assist her as she weaves a story about loss of hope --- in God and in people --- and a revisiting of this faith amidst horrific and terrifying circumstances.
Within a carefully constructed framework, Mick and Taylor meet and find some tenuous common bond of suffering between them. After an evening together, Mike awakens in Taylor's apartment only to find Taylor missing. It doesn't take long before the absent Taylor brings about some suspicions and Mick is the obvious suspect. Though this plot isn't necessarily fresh, Gutteridge does a nice job keeping the action moving with interesting twists between the characters. She has readers guessing as to who is responsible for Taylor's disappearance and does a particularly fine job of not giving away too much information...just enough to have readers contemplating what may have occurred.
By bringing in some oddball characters in the guise of an eccentric police officer, a lawyer who has his obvious life issues, and other assorted dysfunctional supporting roles, Gutteridge makes the journey lively and sets the stage for a continued storyline. By the book's close, readers will have their most glaring questions answered and will be awaiting the next installment of the brothers Kline.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on March 3, 2005