Author: J.S. Cook
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 304 Pages
At a Glance: Both of these stories are fast paced and filled with so many twist and turns that you can’t even begin to guess how Jack’s saga will end.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: The Second World War touches Newfoundland in unprecedented ways, throwing spies and patriots together inside Jack Stolyes’s Heartache Café.
American expatriate Jack Stoyles embarks on a self-imposed exile to St. John’s, Newfoundland. With good reason, Jack calls his place “Heartache Café.” He’s content—until Samual Halim walks into his life.
When a constable goes missing, Jack finds himself caught between a manipulative woman, a corrupt cop, and a sabotaged work site.
Valley of the Dead
When Egyptian diplomat Samuel Halim enters Jack’s Heartache Café, Jack’s life changes forever. Then Sam disappears along with the code key to decipher a Nazi radio command that will set Rommel’s troops in motion, leaving Jack with nothing but a fragmented phone call.
In the teeming heat of Cairo—a city rife with romance, secrets, sex, and danger, where no one is who he seems and violent death waits around every shadowed corner—it’s up to Jack to find the new love of his life and deliver the code that will change the course of history. But as Sam’s secrets come to light, there’s more at stake than the tenuous relationship forming between the two men.
First Edition of Valley of the Dead published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013.
First Edition of Heartache Café published by MLR Press, 2009.
Review: Oasis of Night is a compilation of books about Jonathan “Jack” Stoyles—Heartache Café and Valley of the Dead. J.S. Cook takes us back to the 1930s and 40s, during war time, and the author does an amazing job of making Jack’s saga—the war history, Hitler, the Nazis and Rommel invading North Africa—interesting. This novel is filled with espionage, murder, tragedy, intolerance in the military, but mainly is the story of a man trying to live life and find love again.
In Heartache Café, Jack is introduced as a military man who was “blue tagged” by the Army. Besides the military discharge, he has other problems to think about, feeling useless to the point of suicide. But then an old army friend, Frankie Missalo, suggests Jack leave Philadelphia behind and come join him in St. Johns, Newfoundland. Jack feels this is what he needs—a quiet life, minding his own business and letting the war just pass him by. He finds himself a storefront and opens Heartache Cafe. But things don’t turn out so quiet and peaceful for Jack after all—Heartache Cafe turns into spy central.
Jack makes friends with two interesting characters, Chris DuBois and Constable Picco, but neither of them create that spark that Jack is longing for. Love is just not in the cards for him anymore…until Samuel Halim shows up at Heartache Cafe looking for directions, and Jack falls for him. Samuel, however, is married with children and not who he seems. When Jack gets a mysterious call from Samuel, he sets out for Egypt.
Which is where Valley of the Dead picks up. The continuation of Jack’s story does include some repetition from Heartache Café, but it goes deeper into what actually happened to Jack once he was discharged from the military. When he gets settled in Egypt, he meets with Tareenah Halim, Samuels wife, and he starts to get a whole new picture of Samuel. With tearful eyes she pleads her case and Jack agrees to find her husband.
His next stop is the police station, where he meets with a not-so-friendly Sergeant Ibrahim Samir, who warns Jack to stop looking for Sam or he will arrest him. But the two men start meeting with each other, though it becomes clear there’s one man who comes between them—Samuel—and Jack is forced to face the reality of it all. He’s hurt Ibrahim even knowing that he and Samuel will never be together. With all the chaos going on around Jack, he starts to feel like he’s a jinx, and he still ponders joining the allied forces. I found it interesting how the allied forces were more accepting of being gay, as well as Ms. Cook taking us on an exciting journey to different parts of Egypt.
J.S. Cook has an exquisite way of writing, and brings the war right to the doorstep of Newfoundland. Both of these stories are fast paced and filled with so many twist and turns that you can’t even begin to guess how Jack’s saga will end. I really felt bad for Jack and what he had to endure with the military, which, I think, is the main reason for him having a hard time finding love.
You can buy Oasis of Night here: