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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Andrew John Schmitz’s Hands Across the Sky is a tale of triumphant tragedy. Ezra Quinn is dreaming. A dream of “a sea of blue hands,” his peaceful bliss is disturbed by a mysterious phone call. A foreign voice casts a spell of intrigue with an unusual request. Up to this point, Ezra has led a predictable life - the life of a computer nerd with exceptional skills. He meets with this stranger and ponders his request: to lead a team in the development of wearable surveillance technology in Dubai. The offer sounds unbelievable, a chance for something new in a foreign land - something fresh, something strange. How could he refuse? In less than a week, he finds himself accompanied by the personnel manager of Azure Oasis Technologies. Quinn is immediately smitten by Leila; her exotic beauty is mesmerizing and her scent alluring. However, all is not as it seems. Something feels off. Soon Ezra realizes this opportunity of a lifetime is a scheme of treasonous betrayal that could cost him his life. As the inescapable day of reckoning approaches, will Quinn be subdued by the iron fist of sadistic control or be set free by the power of the open hand?
Andrew John Schmitz proves that there is more to Egypt than stories of pyramids, mummies and artifacts in Hands Across the Sky. Writing through the lens of his Middle Eastern studies, Schmitz creates a suspenseful story set in the heart of the Sahara desert. The panoramic scenery surrounding the Nile reveals the duality of the landscape; mysterious timeless antiquity blended with modern technology and the despair of poverty. The characters are placed in this ancient, yet contemporary land, trying desperately to coexist within its paradox. Schmitz takes his main character from the safety of the conventional and thrusts him into the unknown. By transforming the hero from mundane into extraordinary, he creates a dynamic and enjoyable character. The supporting characters aid his growth; both Leila and Tarek complement Quinn’s evolving personality from a cerebral nerd into a 'fight for your life, do or die' hero.
The narrative’s action is not rushed; it blows as the desert sands, at times gently, at other times as a furious storm. Although thrilling and adventuresome, Hands Across the Sky is a meaningful romantic story, rich with acute metaphors and figurative language. This line from the book sums it up nicely: “Let the story enter you and create its meaning there. Do not try to force the meaning on the story.” Great line, great book.