The questions of morality have been asked constantly by us and to each other. What defines morality? Who decides? Hector Macdonald explores these questions in his new novel The Hummingbird Saint.
Benjamin Sword Hoppner is an eccentric philanthropist who has made billions from his pornographic empire - billions that he's not loathe to give away. A visionary and champion of all he thinks is moral, he retires to the Central American Cloud Forest to build the town of Miraflores into his own utopia. Additionally, he offers an open invitation of millions of dollars to anyone in need of his charitable contributions on one condition: anyone who wishes to take his money must first take a morality test to prove their virtue. If they can't Hoppner is a powerful man.
The offer of a blank cheque is too tempting an offer for Mark Weston to resist, who travels to Hoppner's land to try his luck. He meets the smooth-talking Freddy, the beautiful Alice, and her innocent husband Leonard along the way, also intent on bending the truth a little to get to that tempting fortune. Together, they make their way to Miraflores, determined to get some "charitable contributions."
The Hummingbird Saint can be classified as a thriller, but there is much more here in its 528 pages than a mere suspenseful action story. Meaningful and thought-provoking, it makes its reader plunge into the constant debate of morality and ethics. Who can define this gray area of morality? What can come of it? Macdonald skillfully mixes in some shrewd philosophizing into his action-driven plot, creating both a physical and psychological ride for the reader. Hoppner's firm belief in his own moral code is admirable, but also frightening in its unbending strictness. Mark, forced to face that code, begins to question everyone's different view of morality, and the reader is forced to think with him.
Macdonald writes with clear, concise style. Though the novel tends to get repetitive and drag in places (the character of Mark has the bad habit of constantly rethinking events and ideas through - multiple times), a level of good suspense is maintained throughout. The action is sparse in places, but when things do happen, the compulsive energy of the scene makes it hard to put down, and it intersperses well with the philosophy and unique character development. The characters themselves at first come off as unsympathetic, but Macdonald twists and develops them through the story until the reader is genuinely interested in their fate. Interesting, intriguing, and original, The Hummingbird Saint is definitely a recommended psychological thriller on my list of novels.
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