In another of William H. Coles’ literary fiction novels, Guardian of Deceit, is Darwin Hastings, who lands wide-eyed, bushy-tailed and driven to succeed under the care of his sports celebrity cousin, Luther. Luther is wealthy and insensitive to those who love and even worship him, like his celebrity pop star girlfriend, Sweeney Pale. Like Sweeney, young Darwin is loyal to a fault. With every challenge Luther throws at him, Darwin becomes stronger, wiser and eventually very rich, while also fulfilling his role as the Guardian of Deceit…and deceits surround him. From Luther, to Darwin’s mentor in the medical field, to his mentor’s chalk and cheese daughters, Helen and Coral, to their boyfriends, to Darwin’s own relationships, secrets abound. Darwin handles all them expertly, ever mindful of the possible pain and damage to those he cares about if the truth were revealed.
The result of all this is a novel that is not unlike a collection of short stories. There are so many characters in Guardian of Deceit that occasionally the reader forgets Darwin is the protagonist and that this is a story about a young man coming of age in an upper-class society full of petty jealousies and lies. Readers get caught up in the juxtaposition and bickering of the two very different sisters. Next moment, readers are following Luther’s head security guard as he works with police to find out who murdered a potential Olympic swimmer. Or we are weeping with Sweeney as she worries whether fans love her music or Luther loves her. And there is the saga of Luther himself, who is on a steady downward roll thanks to drug abuse, gambling, and violence.
In Guardian of Deceit, every character has a story and few of them know themselves very well. Darwin becomes not only a guardian of their secrets but a sounding board for their insecurities. And occasionally, one of the characters, like Ms. Pearlstein, bounces his advice back at him to consider for himself. So many characters; so many stories. Yet, it’s the reality of life in any neighborhood, town or city. Who really knows what’s going on next door or what the real situation is between husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, grandparents, employers, and employees. William H. Coles simply lets the dialogue between his characters reveal all and leaves it to readers to draw their own conclusions about each of them. But if there is one need they all share, it’s the need for love. Throughout Guardian of Deceit, every character is looking for love. Does each find it? Does Darwin? Read the novel to find out. 5/5 Stars