The Warden author Jon Richter is my latest read. I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this book! It is the first from author Jon Richter, but I know it will not be the last.
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About The Warden
The year is 2024, and the residents of the Tower, a virus-proof apartment building, live in a state of permanent lockdown. The building is controlled by James, who keeps the residents safe but incarcerated. Behind bricked-up front doors, their every need is serviced; they are pampered but remain prisoners.
This suits Eugene just fine. Ravaged by the traumas of his past, the agoraphobic ex-detective has no intention of ever setting foot outside again. But when he finds the Tower’s building manager brutally dismembered, his investigator’s instincts won’t allow him to ignore the vicious crime.
What Eugene finds beyond the comfort of his apartment’s walls will turn his sheltered existence upside down. To unravel the Tower’s mysteries, he must confront James. And James takes his role as the Warden very, very seriously.
Thoughts on The Warden
I’ve got to say, The Warden was the most engaging thriller I’ve read in a long time. The mysteries build, and every time I think I’ve solved one, two more take its place. The story follows two alternating characters, in settings that are five years apart, and events in the earlier story leave tantalizing clues to help solve what’s going on in the future.
In the first story, we’re following a woman named Felicity who is the chief designer of James, and who helps get him installed in as many places as possible. We’re early on in the Covid pandemic here, and as her story progresses, she lays the foundation for what’s to come in Eugene’s story.
Eugene is a retired detective who is happy to live alone in his James-controlled apartment, away from the memories of his past that continue to haunt him. His only communication with the outside is Zoom calls with other residents in his apartment building, but some things aren’t what they seem. As Eugene unravels the secrets of James, his sanity starts to unravel with it.
The enigmatic AI program known as James is sinisterly helpful, or perhaps helpfully sinister. Think HAL-9000 crossed with Jarvis from the Iron Man movies. Ostensibly, James is designed to provide all the necessities for Eugene to live comfortably in his isolation. But James’ motivations are wrapped in mystery, and you never know if he’s telling the truth or not.
James is the thread that links the two independent stories together. And when those stories begin to merge, that’s when the true thrill of this book begins. I wanted to go back and re-read earlier chapters just so I could marvel at the author’s skill in hiding the seeds of mystery in seemingly mundane parts of the story.
An ongoing thread in the story is characters asking James “What is your favorite movie?” James gives a different answer every time, as his programming collects new data. And as James continues to learn, so does the reader. You want to read more and more, and I was disappointed every time I had to put the book down.
Oh, and by the way, my favorite movie is The Princess Bride.
Final Thoughts on The Warden
Given the ongoing pandemic we all find ourselves in, The Warden gives us an eerie look at how things could happen for us in the very near future. It doesn’t attempt to scare the reader, or overwhelm you with political opinions from either side of the aisle. Everything is told matter-of-factly, which is a welcome change from the world we live in now.
I didn’t want the story to end, but sadly it did. Although all of the important secrets were uncovered, there’s still a lot of mystery leftover. Just like James, I want to learn more and more.
Have you read The Warden or any other writing from Jon Richter? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Click here to read more of my favorite reviews.
About the Author
Jon Richter writes dark fiction, and is the author of three gripping crime thrillers (Deadly Burial, Never Rest and Rabbit Hole) as well as two collections of short horror fiction (Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works, Volumes One and Two), cyberpunk thriller London 2039: Auxiliary, and his most recent release: psychological techno-thriller The Warden.
Jon lives in London and spends some of his time hiding in the guise of his sinister alter ego, an accountant called Dave. When he isn’t counting beans, he is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a great story!
Purchasing The Warden
If you are interested in buying the paperback version of The Warden, click here.
Click here for the Kindle version.
Click here for my favorite Kindle I currently own.
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