A review of “Parabellum” by Greg Hickey

Full disclosure, I was provided a copy of this book by the author, however, I have voluntarily chosen to write a review. All opinions are my own.

The Mind of a Killer

On a sweltering summer day by a busy lakefront in Chicago shots suddenly ring out, sending friends and families scattering – trapped like fish in a barrel as the unknown gunner unleashes their wrath.  In a city already infamous for its crime rate, this seems like just another senseless incident, but what would drive someone to such an act?

Parabellum is the second full-length novel by author Greg Hickey and it is unlike anything I have ever read before. While most crime novels follow real-time the events of the protagonist, Hickey has flipped the script and has presented the reader with the aftermath up front, and all subsequent chapters presenting the back story and build up. Using a highly effective approach, Hickey rewinds time back over a year prior to the mass event as the lives of four likely suspects are followed. Throughout the narrative, the reader has the unique opportunity to observe the would-be killer as they navigate their current lives. As the individual stories of the ex-athlete forced to give up their beloved sport for health reasons, the arrogant and borderline sociopathic computer programmer, the college student with a unique look that has caused them to be bullied throughout their life, and the military veteran with PTSD unfold, it is difficult to believe that one of these individuals could have a motivation to commit such a crime. Approaching the narrative in such a way allowed all suspects a level of humanity to the point where, even though I knew one of them was the suspect, I did not want any of them to be.

After a slow burn of a build-up to get into the mind of each individual the final chapters begin to ratchet up the tension as the event draws near and even though I knew what was going to happen, Hickey’s descriptions of the event and all involved was no masterful and graphic that I had chills and was shedding tears at the tragedy of it all.

Coming off the heels of Our Dried Voices, Hickey’s 2017 utopian dystopian Sci-Fi masterpiece, Parabellum is a completely different setting and a totally different feel, however, in these two novels, Hickey has already proven what a versatile storyteller he is. After having tackled Science Fiction, then a more modern thriller genre, I find myself looking forward to Hickey’s future offerings as it will be interesting to see what other genres he tackles with his own unique perspective.

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