This book plays out like a summer movie. Set in the near future, Twilight’s Last Gleaming is a political action thriller that brings to light the inner workings of the government (those that are really pulling the strings from behind the curtain that is behind another curtain) and the chess game that is played to keep everything moving in their best interest. There is also the flipside, with a group of highly trained rogue officers trying to tear a small piece of it down to save the name of one of their own.
Billy Ray Blu is a former wartime marine and current award-winning vineyard owner in Southern California. He lives in a small, close-knit town where everybody knows each other, and his brother (Junior) just got engaged to his old flame. Things were status quo until Senator Bryant, a star on Capital Hill with a vice-presidency in his future, visits the town to assure the residents that he won’t be taking their land to build a hydroelectric dam that will net him millions of dollars. A chess move by a string puller nicknamed The Prince of Darkness leads to a near riot in which Blu ends up getting arrested for assaulting members of the Internal Security Surveillance (ISS), a government-run clan meant to keep order, at least on the surface. This landed him a 38-month prison sentence and enough injustice propaganda for his former marine comrades to try and break him out.
With Blu in prison, life went on in Silver Verde Valley. The town grew as the dam was built, the ISS moved in to help “maintain order” and Blu’s friends did their best to try and clear his name, but to no avail (thanks to the powers that be feeling their agenda would be better accomplished with him in prison). Obviously, this all unravels as the story climaxes. I could pretty much sense what was coming from the first few chapters, but I still enjoyed the read.
Author David Aiello wrote what I consider a good popcorn book. It’s a fun and wild ride, full of action and a little bit of drama. There’s not a whole lot of untapped substance and it played out predictably, but I still couldn’t turn away and was eager to see what happened.
I think Aiello wanted the reader to know that there is a sinister aspect to this country, though that is old news. He may have been trying to paint a bleak picture of what America could be (the back of the book says that this takes place in the “near future”), but things have seemed bleak for years. He may have been trying to show how bad the inner circle of politics are, but “House of Cards” (to name one of many) has already hammered that home.
The thing that bothered me most about this story was Blu. Even though he was a sympathetic and likable character, he was ultimately a criminal. While a set of circumstances may have been set up in hopes that he would react the way he did, he still committed a crime. His revenge plan was absolutely horrific as it played out, and I was never sure why he was trying to accomplish his endgame.
While I have some complaints about “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” I still enjoyed the book as a whole. The characters, even the unlikable ones, were all relatable. I liked the fact that there were some characters I hated. I also had trouble putting the book down, as I needed to know what was going to happen next. A story that keeps you reading is the epitome of successful writing.