Ashes of the Earth
Humankind's greed and enmity start a nuclear holocaust that destroys most of the world. The survivors start again. Twenty-five years later, humankind's greed and enmity threaten once again.
Hadrian Boone was one of the founders of the settlement of Carthage. He was a Council member and the school teacher. But over the years his guilt over losing his family in the holocaust and his depression, he has become an alcoholic and constantly in trouble. He spends as much time in jail as he does out of it. Almost everyone in Carthage considers him to be a trouble maker. But Jonah, another founder, still believes in him. Jonah is Hadrian's sanctuary.
While on latrine duty as a prisoner, Hadrian finds a body. It was of a young man who had been sent out about six months earlier to scout. It looks like the man never made it out of town before he was killed. That night, Jonah is found murdered hanging in the library. Hadrian is furious and is determined to discover who killed his dear friend. Hadrian had pulled away from the community over the past few years. But now he realizes something sinister is going on.
Hadrian starts looking closely at the people around him. He also is concerned for the exiles - the people who were shut away from Carthage when they showed signs of radiation sickness. An old friend from the exile camp is the person accused of murdering Jonah. Hadrian knows she didn't do it. Now he has to find out what is really going on.
Eliot Pattison has crafted a chilling, intricate mystery in Ashes of the Earth. Although the reader quickly learns what happened to Earth 25 years earlier, he uses the whole book to slowly reveal the devastation. Pattison is able to portray how people come together in a crisis and work together to survive. But the basic qualities of people don't change. There will always be people who lie, cheat, steal, and even murder. There will always be people who teach, champion, and care for the weaker and the innocent. There will always be the hard working people in the middle, the ones who become victims because of where they are rather than who they are.
Ashes of Earth is not an easy page turner. Hadrian has had a sorrowful past and is trying to overcome it. Pattison's situations in this book are harsh and deadly. At times I had to put the book down because it was hitting to hard. Yet the characters stayed in my head - Hadrian, the policewoman Jori, the exile Nelly, the boy Dax, the girl Sarah, and the governor of Carthage, Buchanan. They are not necessarily the people Hadrian thinks he knows. Although hinted at - and fairly obvious near the end - there are people and evil all the way through.
Don't read Ashes of the Earth if you're depressed or sad. Otherwise, definitely read Ashes of the Earth. It's a picture of what we hope to avoid as a world and it's a darned good mystery.
Notice: Graphic violence
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