Last Gasp by Howard Levine
contemporary (ca. 2010) adult thriller
Black Opal Books* September 2018
In Last Gasp, what has become the pervasive threat of mass casualty events due to the intentions of terrorists sets the stage for a thriller with a tale of two brothers at its core. Spinning out from the hub of Vietnam War veteran Frank Tedeschi’s personal and professional relationships, each connection moves the investigation into the conspiracy theory forward, while incorporating momentum from past events. The blending of the present-day events in 2010 with Frank’s experiences in the 1970s highlights the similarities between two generations of debate about patriotism. Zealotry of all kinds is portrayed and challenged, as in this passage on page 24:
Both factions justified their positions with quotes from the Koran, which was seemingly every bit as malleable as the Bible.
Last Gasp combines social commentary on the ongoing debates about printable guns, xenophobia, questionable detainments without due process, blind faith versus lapsed faith, disillusionment, and the consequences of war. In particular, Frank’s relationships with his wife, his brother, and with his military buddy connect the overarching themes to the personal intimacies of everyday life. There are scenes reminiscent of Ray Donovan, and also a surprising amount of humor in this entertaining read that explores the complexity of manhood.