River of Deception
by William F. Thomas
Trafford Publishing

"Henry didn't realize it yet, but he was about to make a fatal mistake, one no good con man should ever make, falling in love with the mark."

Delivering on the title's promise, this story takes place on a nostalgic riverboat cruise as two individuals strive to deceive their way into a better life. As they float down the river, touring some of the more fascinating historic sites along the Mississippi, Henry and Paula discover a love neither one anticipated.

Henry, the protagonist of the tale, struggles to gain some sympathy from the reader without ever quite managing to do so. Introduced as a con man, Henry demonstrates almost no compassion for his fellow human beings, especially those of the female variety. Even his tenuous connection to his mother seems more a matter of personal convenience for him rather than any true desire to see how she's doing. However, looking a little deeper, it is possible to determine that Henry has options other than staying with his mother for a few days. As much as he seems to despise her, there is little other reason for him to visit other than to check on her welfare. It is through these kinds of subtle nuances of character that Henry is able to elicit sympathy from the reader.

It is possible to think higher of Henry in relation to his treatment of Paula, the love interest. A girl with few options in life and less self-esteem, Paula is thrust into a world she must force herself to accept. Only the threat of violence keeps her going, although she begins hatching her own plans almost immediately. It is easy to feel irritation and frustration at this character; however, if there were any character one would be cheering for in this novel, it is Paula. The novel is short at less than 200 pages, and is easily read in an afternoon or on a stormy evening.

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