Elocution Lessons by J. William Patrick is a tale of intrigue and action that takes the reader all across the world, from Japan, to the U.S, to Turkey, to Pakistan and back to the U.S. as a rogue FBI agent seeks singlehandedly to take down and destroy a major weapons-smuggling and money-laundering cartel that is both violent and ruthless. The author introduces us to a wide range of characters in an extensive ensemble cast. The principal characters, though, are Tina Wood and Bryce St. John. Tina is a navy brat and spent her childhood travelling around the world where she displayed a remarkable ability with linguistics. She and Bryce first meet at an International School dance in Ankara, Turkey. Although deeply attracted they both decide to put their careers first before a relationship. Tina will go on to become a linguistics professor, with a maximum-security clearance, who does translation work for the U.S. Government, while Bryce will make a fortune as a trader for a privately held foreign bank in New York. Whilst keeping their friendship alive, long-distance, neither of them realizes that their professional paths are leading them both toward danger, mystery and intrigue in the criminal underworld.
As a reader, I found Elocution Lessons to be an exciting, fast-paced novel that fulfilled all the elements I would expect in a “spy” type thriller. Author J William Patrick did an excellent job of building the cast of characters and throwing in plenty of “red herrings” along the way, as any good thriller writer would. The skill, for me, in this author was his ability to bring all the disparate characters together at the end to make a logical conclusion to the novel. As a reader, the only jarring point for me was the constant back and forth between time periods and places. Although the author did a good job of telegraphing the POV and location changes, from a reader’s perspective, it felt choppy and disjointed in places. That being said, it was an excellent and satisfying read that kept me engaged the whole time. For those who enjoy a little steam in their romantic liaisons there was plenty of that to keep you interested. If, as I suspect, this is a debut novel from this author, it is a worthy beginning and one worth building on. I will be watching out for more from this author in the future.