Seven Unholy Days by Jerry Hatchett

Title: Seven Unholy Days

Author: Jerry Hatchett

Publisher: Red House Publishing

Publication date: April 5, 2013

Genre: Thriller

Summary: For seven days, the world, primarily the United States, is terrorized by a madman who can and will kill millions with no compunction. Computer whiz Matthew Decker finds himself at odds with this psycho who taunts him at every turn, leaving the bare amount of a clue to figuring out his crazy agenda. And if Matt Decker fails, the end of the world as we know it will occur, heralding a new kind of psychotic god.

Even if you’re not big on Christianity, don’t let that make you skip out on this one. Despite the blatant religious overtones, the religion makes sense in the context of the story and Hatchett does a great job of not pushing religion on his readers, and not too hard on his maybe believing protagonist. It is integral to the story, but the reader does not need a background in Christianity to understand it. The characters (and author) do a great job of explaining the necessary information without pushing religion. Well, okay, maybe the one religious character can come off as a bit much, but his expertise is necessary and Decker does a great job deflecting his occasional pushiness for the reader’s sake. Ultimately, I still wouldn’t consider this a religious novel.

Seven Unholy Days is a nice saving the world kind of novel with a clear good vs. evil theme. Hatchett also does an excellent job of simultaneously pointing out the evilness of his antagonist and the antagonist’s own perceived goodness. Initially a clash between two business rivals, the story quickly evolves into a madman taunting the book’s hero. The conflict drives the plot, but the characters, being who they are, ensure this makes sense and Hatchett never seems to wander too far from who his characters are to get the plot going. There are numerous twists and turns and seemingly endless puzzles for Decker to solve, keeping the reader guessing as to what comes next. What I really loved about this novel was that something was always happening, some new piece of information gleaned to put the puzzle together or an action-packed event that rocks the country. I also loved the game between Decker and Hart, the taunting and desire to save the world that truly drives the plot forward, playing off of Decker’s fears and need to save the country and Hart’s relentless pursuit of godhood.

Hatchett does a lovely job of keeping the main character pool manageable and introducing them only as the novel calls for them. This isn’t to say there aren’t characters that get jumbled up with others, but most of them are clearly defined and unique. Despite occasionally mixing up some of the more minor characters, most tend to fit with their location and can easily be recalled. I particularly enjoyed the depiction of Hart, who describes himself in god-like terms, but who others simultaneously view as a maniac. What was also done quite well was how two individuals can come away from the same experience with different trajectories in life. This is true of Hart and Decker, and plays very well into the conflict and rivalry between them. Of note, I did find Jana’s (the love interest and anything but damsel in distress) character a little too convenient. For the first half of the novel, she was irrelevant, but Hatchett continually brought her in, perhaps to remind the reader of her existence, but perhaps to help better shape the insanity of Hart. During the last half, she was integral to the developing actions, but either her location at the halfway point or her background was a little too convenient and was the one hiccup in an otherwise mostly flawless characterization.

Seven Unholy Days was very nicely written with some technical flaws, but with an excellently paced story that made sense. The technical and religious information necessary to better understand the story was easily accessible to the general layperson, though it could have fit better into the narrative in some places. Otherwise, some grammatical errors, missing punctuation, and occasional confusion between past and present tense did little to detract from the overall story until the end, when the pacing picked up and the story reached its inevitable end. With a more careful eye towards editing, the entire novel could have been close to perfect for me. However, I greatly enjoyed Seven Unholy Days and can overlook the problems to find an interesting thriller that definitely kept me reading, despite the editorial flaws.

Bottom line: Even if religion isn’t your thing, don’t just pass on it. A truly thrilling read, it has the requisite action, realistic advances and losses, strong characters, puzzles the protagonist must solve to save the world, and a true madman as the antagonist.

How many cups of tea will you need?

4 cups will be perfect

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