A travel thriller truly unfolds in J. P. Moynahan’s The Traveler’s Wake. With the exotic backdrop of Peru, we’re brought into a tale of espionage and investigations. Moynahan writes a tale that makes one question what is reality and what is not.
Wesley Rourke is a mouthy, Irish-lucky millionaire, trotting the globe in search of the perfect place to kill his most hated enemy, himself. Blowing his money on charity, and booze as he zooms from city to city, he lays his course towards Lima, Peru.
Once he arrives, he sets about his grisly task only to be inconvenienced by the lure of a pretty young tourist, the daughter of a prominent British lawmaker.
A few days after their first date, he awakens in a hospital to find her missing and he himself embroiled in a media blitz and massive manhunt. With time running out, and wracked with horrifying night-terrors, Wesley is forced to face his past cowardice and wade into the bowels of a pitiless underworld in search of his one ray of hope.
The city of Lima awaits him.
I want to preface any comments on The Traveler’s Wake with stating that this was simply not my kind of book. The entire story revolves around the protagonist’s quest of faith and delves deeply into the battle of life and death. This sort of book is not what I enjoy and as such, I found the experience of reading it to be somewhat of a chore. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I want to state that I came to this open minded and still found quite a lot of issues.
The biggest asset of The Traveler’s Wake is Moynahan’s ability to write. Moynahan creates a fully realized protagonist and conveys the overall sense of thrill and urgency well. Unfortunately, the book progresses and the reader is left wondering why the protagonist is the only character that seems multi-dimensional. It was as if Moynahan was simply writing what he knew and made the main character Wes close to his own personality. Maybe this character just spoke a bit more to him. I really can’t say. What I can say is that every other character seemed hollow and stereotypical. They didn’t have much backstory and it was as if each character only served Wes and the overall plot.
I have to say that while I really liked the concept of the plot, I was not happy with the execution. The entire plot can really be boiled down to the age old, man saves princess in the tower tale. I found this slightly distracting but it is not what frustrated me about Moynahan’s plot choices. The vehicle for the thrill is a kidnapping of the princess/love interest. As I said this is only slightly distracting. What bothers me to no end is that such a traditional plot is used in conjunction with the real issue of human trafficking. This could have been tempered by really strong female characters but unfortunately Moynahan does the exact opposite. Women are simply victims or convenient accessories in The Traveler’s Wake. With an issue like this, there should be balance, not a sense of ironic parallel between female characters being submissive and female characters being victims. There were no females in power, a fact which I found unacceptable in depicting the twenty first century.
The entire story feels like a Christian fiction novel. While this is not a bad thing for some, I found that it drove the story forward in a manner which didn’t appeal to all readers. For instance, Wes has a moment of clarity in his faith and the reader isn’t quite sure why this is. Moynahan did have some balance with Wes questioning his sanity when he has moments of faith but he negates it by simplifying the story to ‘guy realizes why he should be so faithful’. This whole aspect didn’t appeal to me at all but I imagine that there is a market out there for it.
Ultimately, the high points were few and far between for me. I liked some of the witty banter and how the plot was somewhat thought provoking. Unfortunately, I felt as if Moynahan couldn’t decide what point he wanted to make. When he finally did, I realized that I didn’t exactly like nor agree with said point. I really think The Traveler’s Wake is the perfect book for readers who are looking for a well written piece of Christian fiction with a bit of espionage thrown in. Other than that, approach with caution.