Friday, June 30, 2017

FFB Review: THE SIXTEENTH MAN (2000) by Thomas B. Sawyer -- Reviewed by Barry Ergang

For this final Friday in June, Barry Ergang is back with another review for Friday’s Forgotten Books. Today he reviews The Sixteenth Man by Thomas B. Sawyer. After you read Barry’s review, head over to Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog for the full list of suggestions.

THE SIXTEENTH MAN (2000) by Thomas B. Sawyer

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

If and when you decide to acquire a copy of this novel, I urge you to avoid reading the lengthy synopses at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably elsewhere, lest they spoil some of the tense and pleasurable surprises you’ll encounter by reading the actual story.  

A mystery thriller featuring two timelines which ultimately converge, The Sixteenth Man opens in the present with archaeologist Dr. Matthew Packard nearly killing himself in a motorcycle accident in Moab, Utah, where he and his crew are on a dig. The accident results in his discovery of an ancient burial site containing the bones of sixteen skeletons, fifteen of which are possibly a hundred thousand years-old, and one of which still has some hairs attached and silver fillings in its teethand a bullet in its forearm, rendering its demise far more modern. When one of his crew is seriously injured and another murdered, Packard realizes he’s stumbled onto something of archaeological, historical, and—possibly—criminal significance. Now if he can only live long enough to uncover who and why….

In November of 1963, private investigator Charlie Callan, a man whose own personal and professional issues are in a state of chaos, is contracted by a wealthy friend to obtain evidence supporting his wife’s blatant infidelity. Charlie tails the woman and her lover from Nevada to Texas, and it’s there that he stumbles into trouble that includes a murder charge, a murderous conspiracy at the highest level of government (note the time of this part of the story at this paragraph’s beginning), and an opportunity to make a great deal of money for those he loves despite the likelihood that he’ll be killed no matter what.  

Beyond mentioning that the way these two storylines play out and come together will keep readers turning pages as they get to know some intriguing characters, their backgrounds and relationships to others, lethal and otherwise, in a terrific page-turner, I don’t want to say anything  more lest I spoil the fun and excitement.

Except to say: read it—unless those doing so find graphic language and some sexuality disturbing or outright offensive. 

While non-prudish 21st Century readers are at it, they should check out author Thomas B. Sawyer’s qualifications——where it should become immediately apparent that the man knows how to tell—and what drives—a compelling story. 


© 2017 Barry Ergang

Some of Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s work is available at Amazon and at

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