A life cut short; unsolved robberies plaguing Philadelphia’s Jeweler’s Row; a cryptic message scrawled on a paper napkin; a Romanov prince; a young man held captive in Iran; a terrorist cell bent on revenge; and an opera company due to mount a rarely performed production of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast. What do these have to do with Jan Phillips?
One plunges Jan into a prolonged sadness. One leads him on a race to prevent a nuclear disaster. One offers Jan the promise of renewed love. One leads him to reluctantly wield his power as a Mundus master. One is bent on shattering thousands of lives beyond repair, while one unknowingly holds the key to the mystery that has baffled Philadelphia’s finest. Follow Jan as he untangles this Gordian knot that will alter his life in a way he never thought possible.
Sparkles by Michael Halfhill is the third in the Whatever Happened to Jan Phillips series. It’s an ensemble book about Jan Phillips, a man in mourning from the loss of his lover. In Sparkles Jan solves the mystery of Philadelphia’s stolen jewels, stops a nuclear war, and finds new love. Yeah, it was a lot.
Halfhill’s characters were rife with palpable emotions, and the settings came alive with explicit details. (As a Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania native, I appreciated the all too rare hometown shout-out.) Unfortunately, I struggled with much of this book. Some of the issue was, undoubtedly, the fact that I started the series three books in. This left me with no connection to the characters, therefore, struggling to relate to the intensity of their emotions, especially those in the first chapters. Sparkles had so many storylines that I couldn’t always keep up from one jump to the next and often needed to go back in attempt to reorient myself.
Sparkles by Michael Halfhill was well-written, but not for me. I’m sure followers of the series will feel differently. In my opinion, you need to start from the beginning of this series to fully enjoy it.