By The Minter on February 10, 2016
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Since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, countless conspiracy theories have emerged. Many of them center around the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was, at the very least, not the lone gunman. Looking into it myself, I have read that some even claim the fatal shot was fired accidentally by one of JFK’s own bodyguards. Regardless of what actually happened that fateful day, November 22, 1963, it doesn’t change the fact that America lost one of its most memorable presidents. It also doesn’t change the fact the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald remains one of American history’s most enigmatic figures. Elizabeth N. Newton, in her speculative historical fiction thriller View from the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale, presents an alternate theory to the JFK assassination while spinning an exciting story of romance, adventure, and intrigue.
Olivia Roberts turns to her neighbor and friend, Bill Horton, after the sudden death of her husband. Olivia (“Livvy”) seems to have mixed feelings about her husband’s death. While mostly she speaks highly of him, there are times she described her marriage as stifling and even hints that he was domineering and occasionally abusive. Nonetheless, her friendship with Bill quickly turns into a mutual attraction. When Livvy tells Bill that she wants to go to Dallas to learn more about the JKF assassination (a topic that has suddenly become of deep interest to her), Bill at first tries to talk her out of it and then reluctantly offers to go with her. In the weeks leading up to the trip, strange things start happening in her neighborhood: a van is parked at the end of her block, two men posing as home-security salesmen try to enter her home. Strangest of all, Bill has walked miles in the middle of the night to a drugstore and called her to pick him up from there. Livvy seems to be in denial about her friend’s odd behavior, refusing to believe that he is anyone other than her old friend and neighbor. She trusts him unconditionally even after finding out about his past. During the trip, she will find out that Bill is not only not who Livvy thought he was, he holds the power to tear apart everything America thought they knew about the government and the alter the course of American history.
The biggest plot twist is not very surprising, but the aftermath will keep you glued to your Kindle. With the exception of some strange events in the neighborhood, the first half of the novel is filled with fairly mundane descriptions of daily activities. It starts off slow but picks up about a third of the way through. The reader is simultaneously watching Bill and Livvy’s romance unfold and watching one of the most infamous events in American history scrutinized up-close. Sixth Floor is special because it tells the story of regular people against the backdrop of history and because it romanticizes and humanizes unlikely people.
There are a few loose ends Mrs. Newton forgot to address (such as the identity of the two women seen entering Bill’s home), but overall I think readers will be satisfied with this novel’s ending. She is not trying to rewrite history, but rather present a “what if” scenario. For that reason, I believe she chose to wrap up the more personal ending and leave the bigger historical ending open. Livvy comes across as a tad bit gullible and wishy-washy, but is still really likeable. Bill is marvelous as her star-struck, protective neighbor and friend.
Sixth Floor can benefit from a professional formatting and a punctuation check. They don’t distract from the read, but will make the book appear more polished.
Overall, a strongly recommended read. Check it out today!