Review: A Strange Habit of Mind
TLDR: Andrew Klavan Delivers
*Disclaimer: The review may be vague because the book is not out yet, and I want the reader to feel the same shock I did when I read the book. You’re welcome.
On October 25, Andrew Klavan’s latest Cameron Winter novel, A Strange Habit of Mind, will be unleashed on households around the world. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, you should.
For those who subscribe to our newsletter, we have 10 copies of A Strange Habit of Mind that we will be giving away once it is released! So, make sure to subscribe. By doing so, you support us, which enables us to support more authors like Andrew Klavan.
The Ideas Matter
Andrew Klavan needs no introduction. His accomplishments alone speak for him. As I mentioned in my review of the prequel, When Christmas Comes, I desire a story that is more than just plot-driven. I want a story that keeps me interested, but I also want characters that are more than an inch deep.
I'm a student of philosophy, and I enjoy novels that develop characters with beliefs about the present world and what it should become. This raises a novel from “just a good story” to something that causes you to reflect. In causing the reflection, the book actually changes something about how you think. For example, When Christmas Comes reminds the reader that man is flawed and history has its evil, but it also has its good. The takeaway for me was: the evil of the past does not negate the good of tradition in the present. A Strange Habit of Mind has several lessons woven throughout, but there are two lessons that really stick out: our ideas have consequences, and “sometimes you have to play through the pain.”
Corruption and Integrity
In Andrew Klavan’s testimony on oneforisrael.org, he says, “In order to live, sometimes you gotta play in pain.” It’s the tough guy who plays in pain. For Klavan, a tough guy is a man who walks with integrity in a world that is corrupt.
Cameron Winter is a tough guy, but he is a broken tough guy. His past haunts him. Throughout the novel, Cameron is bombarded with the ideas that you and I are hit with every day, yet he stands his ground. He does his job in spite of the consequences. Why? Because reality is corrupt. It hurts us, even the best of us, and “sometimes you have to play in pain.”
Our Ideas Have Consequences
“Ideas have consequences” is a truism that we experience through the eyes of Cameron Winter, an English professor with a past. From the very first page, we are thrust into Winter’s past. When Klavan said the ideas in the book were ideas no one would want to touch, he wasn’t lying. If Cameron Winter were to post a Twitter thread of his sessions with his therapist, Margret Whitaker, he would be cancelled!
Winter’s past made him into the man, English professor, and detective we came to enjoy in the first book. Where did Winter learn to fight, use guns, get inside people’s heads, and have credibility with people in the FBI, like “Stan Stan”? This book answers these questions. His past is not a corny development either. You mustn’t fear an origin story like: “I was recruited by Dr. Xavier to join the school for gifted students because I’m strong and shoot lasers out of my face.”
Winter’s past is realistic, moving, and crushing all at the same time. Klavan pulls us into Winter’s beliefs, ethics, and inconsistencies, not just with a good plot, but with ideas that you and I face every day. You know these ideas because they are the ones that can get you cancelled at your job, or rejected by those closest to you. I know many of you who listen to our podcast and read our articles have endured these rejections.
For those who have paid for their ideas or are frustrated with the constant Marxist garbage in the news, you will find Klavan’s book therapeutic. You will be shocked from the very first page to the end.
We all know that ideas have consequences, but we are typically referring to the big and impersonal ideas: Communism, Fascism, Materialism, Capitalism, etc. But what about your ideas? What about what you think about the world? What about the ideas you have about yourself? About justice? About God? Can the ways you think about yourself, your neighbors, your co-workers, your education, really have a big impact on your life and the lives of others, even more so, than the ideas of Communism or Capitalism? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
This swirl of ideas and character development is wrapped up in a mystery surrounding the death of a young college student and the corruption within Big Tech and its billionaire, Gerald Byrne. Somehow, Klavan was able to work into Byrne all of the Big Tech personas. Byrne is a philanthropist and a playboy with a unique philosophy of the world.
Gerald Byrne’s ideas about the world and people are more rigid and engineered, and Winter’s uncertainty of his own beliefs make for some very interesting dynamics between the two characters.
Winter and Byrne’s encounters are filled with tension and uncertainty. Their interactions from beginning to end keep the reader interested and provide an ending that is satisfying, leaving the reader ready for the next installment.
In the end we learn that the impersonal big ideas have consequences. But we also learn that the ideas we allow to govern our personal lives can destroy us and others. If we pursue the truth, despite the corruption of the world, it will take us to a place where we are ready to be changed. This is important in times like these, because it’s only a passion for the truth that can save us. There is a question before Cameron Winter at the end of the novel: “How far is he willing to pursue the truth?”
If you’re looking for a great mystery and a character who takes on the ideas of our day in exciting and realistic ways, then pre-order your copy of A Strange Habit of Mind by Andrew Klavan today!
Thank you to Andrew Klavan for writing this excellent novel and making it relevant to our time. Thank you to MysteriousPress.com for the advanced copy. We are a small outfit, and the opportunity to be part of the excitement of this release was a lot of fun. God bless.
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