A Thousand Suns by Jim Haberkorn isn’t exactly the usual LDS novel. In fact there’s no direct reference to the Church, but anyone who is a member will recognize the protagonist’s observance of the Word of Wisdom, objections to swearing, church attendance, and the two elders who show up at the hospital, along with several other stereotypical Mormon cultural and doctrinal bits that show up through the story as dead giveaways.
Rulon Hurt is a big man as well as a retired government agent. He is also an expert at the hammer throw. He and his wife, Yohaba, live on a ranch near Twin Falls, Idaho, where they help run Rulon’s father’s cattle operation. Every six months a Russian agent appears at a bar in Twin Falls to fight Rulon, where Rulon only drinks Sprite, and each occasion follows the same pattern. Rulon tries to talk the Russian out of fighting, his wife interprets for him but does more to incite a fight than stop one, Rulon beats up the Russian, and the Russian goes home. This time the procedure varies when a group of Nazi skinheads attempt to attack the Russian while he’s down and Rulon defends the unconscious man, then hauls him back to the ranch with him where Rulon, Yohaba, and Boris form a close friendship.
The would-be Nazis who live in a nearby enclave much like the ones associated with Northern Idaho rather than the southern Twin Falls area, seek revenge by shooting at Rulon’s home, beginning a kind of war that results in Rulon landing in the hospital and Yohaba and Boris traveling to Europe to stop the Nazi leader from trying to kill Rulon and gaining access to stolen biological weapons.
In spite of finding some elements of this tale implausible and the author’s knowledge of Twin Falls a little lacking, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Maybe I just like cowboys and Rulon is a great modern day cowboy. Yohaba’s name is strange and she never stops talking, but I like her anyway. She has a great sense of humor and has the courage to do hard things even when they seem impossible and scare her half to death. I like Boris most of all. He tries so hard, thinks things through logically based on solid information, but still meets a lot of failure. His word means something and he abides by his own code of honor. The secondary characters are definite individuals and sometimes surprising.
Some of the plot elements are a bit absurd, yet they fit the story and its characters. Though the story is an odd combination of international intrigue, modern western, and unrequited love, the author makes it work. I found some points humorous, but overall this is a straight forward serious story. The first half of the book is told primarily from Rulon’s point of view, though not exclusively. We also get the POVs of several other characters interspersed here and there. The second half belongs to Yohaba with frequent shifts to Boris’s POV and occasionally to some of the secondary characters. The pace is fast, the action non-stop, and the story is a real page turner.
The ending is satisfying and wraps up the story well while leaving an opening for another book. I particularly liked Boris’s part in the conclusion.
Jim Haberkorn was born in New York, grew up in California, served in the Marines, and attended college at Boise State University. He has lived on three continents, visited forty countries, and currently lives in Zurich, Switzerland with his wife, Kim.
A THOUSAND SUNS by Jim Haberkorn, published by Bonneville Books an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc., soft cover, 320 pages. It is available on Amazon and Kindle.