Authors Showcase: Featuring the novels of Tim Stutler and Roy Huff
May 7, 2013
The Book: Dead Hand Control
The Author: Tim Stutler
The Story: After a turbulent childhood, Russell White vows to control his destiny—and build a lasting legacy. The willful working-class youth graduates from a top law school, then joins a preeminent California firm. His life seems perfect.
But the same desires and drive that bred White’s success also conspire to destroy him. His aggressive style spawns dangers to his home. As White’s world spirals out of his control, he becomes consumed with safeguarding his young family. The full measure of his obsession emerges when a tragedy robs his power to personally continue protecting it.
Then foes mysteriously start disappearing and even dying. White’s plan to control his family’s future appears successful—until a disastrous misstep imperils his son’s life. No amount of meticulous planning can help; only a miracle will save the boy.
Review by Sanuel W. Bettwy: I hesitate to call this the best novel I’ve read by a first-time author; that would do it a great injustice. Dead Hand Control is one of the best contemporary novels I’ve read — period. From page one, I was gripped by a master story-teller’s wit, imagination and insight into the human predicament.
The story is about ambition, angst and immortality — themes close to the hearts of most of us in modern society. Though I wouldn’t describe it as epic, Dead Hand Control brings full circle the life of its main character, Russell White, moving from his youthful bloom through his prime, decline and, ultimately, life-shattering tragedy. The story begins in free-spirited Berkeley, California, where White is a law student. The product of a blue-collar family, he hungers to make it in the elite bar. He has the talent and drive to reach his goal. But White is also a flawed and very human character. After landing a position with a top San Diego firm, he is confronted by temptations and moral dilemmas that might topple a much stronger man. He finds financial success is no longer enough; he wants to build a legacy. In his quest to have it all, White makes choices that lock his young wife and son on an enthralling roller coaster ride, which White is powerless to stop. He becomes obsessed with protecting them, but he never realizes until very late that his own actions are creating the greatest threats.
In Dead Hand Control, author Tim Stutler has crafted a work that won’t stay closed on the night table. Bedtime readers with full-time jobs (like me) will find themselves staying up long after they should be asleep (like me). Several times after promising myself to close the book at the end of a chapter, I was compelled to keep reading. Besides a facility with story-telling, Stutler’s strength is his ability to create realistic characters the reader actually cares about. I found myself so attached to Russell White’s family that once or twice I literally held my breath when they were at risk. I was most moved by the courage and vulnerability of White’s disabled son, Graham, as he struggled throughout the last two parts of the book (which is in three parts) to understand his place in the strange world created by his ambitious father. I also had to laugh out loud at the predicaments the characters found themselves in — including one of the oddest but most entertaining sex scenes I have ever encountered, featuring a Jack Russell Terrier with an oversized sex organ.
Dead Hand Control’s colorful, quirky characters and vivid descriptions remind me of the works of two favorite authors, John Irving (The World According to Garp; The Cider House Rules) and Nicholas Evans (The Horse Whisper; The Loop). If you favor their novels, you’ll enjoy Dead Hand Control. Like their novels, this one is disturbing at times, with its share of deviants and miscreants. It is also very funny in places, as well as touching, uplifting and, ultimately, thought-provoking. I mulled over the book’s ironic ending long after I finished reading. I’ll be reading it again, which I can’t say about many other books.
The Book: Everville: The First Pillar
The Author: Roy Huff
The Story: Owen Sage is the emblematic college freshman at Easton Falls University. With all the worries about his first year in college, he was not prepared for what would happen next. His way of life was flipped upside down when he mysteriously crossed into another dimension, into the beautiful land of Everville.
His excitement was abruptly halted when he discovered that there was a darkness forged against both the natural world, which he knew well, and the new land which he discovered, Everville. He must devise a plan to save both worlds while joining forces with the race of Fron and The Keepers, whom both harbor hidden secrets he must learn in order to gain power over the evil that dwells in The Other In Between.
With a race against time to save both worlds, his short time at Easton Falls did not quite prepare him for the evil, dark forces he must fight in order to conquer The Other In Between.
Review by Baarry Sharpe: Roy Huff is a new face on the scene. As a storyteller, he is to be admired. Everville is complete fantasy, reminding one occasionally of The Hobbit. It is basically a struggle between good and evil. As such, Huff gives us a world that is neither all one or all the other. And while Mr. Huff may not have the polish of a Tolkien, he is nonetheless a very capable storyteller.
I am not ordinarily a fan of this genre but I must say, in the interest of full disclosure, that Mr. Huff asked me to read and review his novel. But know this: were it complete trash I wouldn’t hesitate to say so. I felt it was very good. It certainly deserves to be read by those who love fantasy. Within this context it is readable and enjoyable.
Review by Ionia Martin: This is definitely an excellent opener to a new fantasy series. I was immediately happy to discover that the author wasted no time getting to the interesting stuff. Rather than wading through pages and pages of setup, the author assumes his readers are intelligent enough to make the proper connections, and I appreciated that. Often what bores me with fantasy novels is the way the authors feel the need to over examine every detail of their world, and Roy Huff doesn’t do this.
I liked the way the normal world and the imagined world were intertwined and thought the main character was refreshing. Lately I haven’t found many fantasy novels with truly likeable characters. I liked that this one was young, energetic and although uncertain, quickly became a good hero. I would think this novel would be of particular interest to the younger crowd, but I don’t see a reason why an adult wouldn’t enjoy it as well. I found this to be very good as a whole and would certainly recommend it to others. This looks to be a very promising series.
There have been a lot of books where evil waged war with good, but in my opinion, this one pulled it off better than most.