When Charleen Therry, the new counselor at Jefferson Elementary school, meets Matthew Janson, the prodigy with the mysterious family and a hidden past, she discovers mysteries, surprises, clever subterfuge and a relentless pursuit by a shadowy government organization that covers a thousand miles and the decades of colorful sixties and seventies. This story is a mystery/thriller with the heart of a boy who just wants to find his home, and the soul of mother searching for lost loves.
Even with the help of a surprising character from Matt's past, can this unusual trio escape from the gun-sights of government agents controlled by an evil, ambitious Senator? If Matt is caught, God-like power may be granted to political power-mongers for their own greedy agenda.
And Matt would rather die than let that happen.
Click to enlarge the original DoD file cover for Michael Shale aka Matthew Janson aka Tom Howardson.
English was not his favorite subject. In fact, he's lucky that he even passed his high school english classes. And Bob only took the required English courses in college. But he did love to read; mysteries when he was young, but focusing on science fiction later. But he never considered writing even a short story once college was in his past. So it came as a surprise even to the author when, in 2012, he started writing his first novel, The Smart Kid. But, once he began, he couldn't stop. He was addicted to writing and the creative freedom it offered.
Is this story intended for young adults?
Teen to adult will enjoy it, but it is not written specifically for teens. Since the main character is young, it may appeal to young adults who would like to read about a youthful hero who overcomes evil and abuse.
But Not-Young adults will enjoy it, and be able to relate to the co-protagonists in the novel. Adults will also enjoy the nostalgic references to events and pop culture from the decades of the 60s and 70s.
Is this science fiction?
Yes and No. Everything in the story is based on facts and reality, but the story hints at a science fiction storyline in the entire pentology.
See The Science Behind The Fiction...
So, for readers who don't like science fiction, you will enjoy this because there are only slight sci-fi elements in the story. And it can serve as an introduction for you to the rest of the books in the series, which become more sci-fi based. So you will be eased into the science fiction theme as you progress through the series.
And for readers who enjoy sci-fi, you will appreciate the special surprise that is grounded in fact, but just stretched a little into fiction with a science-edge. Also, Chrysalis Chronology, Int. makes a small appearance in this first novel.
What's a 'Pentology'?
It is like a Trilogy, but two books longer.
Will the main character from The Smart Kid, Matthew Janson, be in any of the other books in the series?
Yes. Although he will not be the main protagonist in the other novels. But his role increases in each book in the series.
Click here to download a free copy of the first chapter, The Trap at Lincoln.
Or read it on Good Reads...
The book has 40 chapters divided into three parts, plus two epilogues.
It has over 110,000 words.
Please send feedback to:
Bob [at] ChrysalisChronology [dot] com
or post comments on the
Review by The Hungry Monster:
The Smart Kid by Bob Miller is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a political thriller, a bit of science fiction, and a mystery as well. Although the story centers around a teenager, I’d hesitate to call this a “young adult” novel. The themes and situations would be entertaining for any adult. The setting in the mid-20th century may leave younger readers wondering about the pop culture references.
Matthew Jansen is an oddball student. He’s a new boy in school, but he’s very smart and spends most of his free time keeping notes in his journal. When the new school counselor, Charleen Therry, gets to know Matt, she discovers secrets that sound like they belong in a Nancy Drew novel. Charleen wants to help Matt, not only because of his secret, but also to help her heal from the death of her husband and son. Matt has been searching for an adult he can trust for years, and with Charleen’s help, he may be able to right the wrongs done to him.
From the start, it’s clear that this is a novel with lots of action. The story begins with a young athlete barely escaping his school and the shadowy government agents who are chasing him. He knows they’re still after him and they won’t stop looking, so he does what he can to cover his tracks. Matt is smart—some would say too smart—and he wants to use his intelligence and gifts to help other kids in school with him. But his intelligence gets him noticed, and that’s not good for his safety.
Matt thinks of himself like a superhero out of the golden age of comics. He tries to help other kids with their real problems, like child abuse and predatory adults. He’s no stranger to hardship, and this drives his need to go so far as to secretly manipulate adults in order to help other kids.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel was the author’s ability to ratchet up the tension through exciting action. Our hero is never truly safe, and throughout his life, he’s been one step ahead of the G-men who are in it for their own nefarious reasons. Harrowing chases, narrow escapes, and even tragedy kept me turning pages. Following Matt’s adventure as the layers of deception and subterfuge fall away to reveal the truth is a roller-coaster ride that will keep you in suspense until the very last chapter.
Another thing I enjoyed is that Matt turns out to have more allies than he thought. The surprising appearance of someone from Matt’s past helps him realize that his mission to be a “superhero” that helps other kids with their problems had more of an effect than he could ever imagine. Overall, this is an exciting and emotionally-driven novel and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys mysteries and thrillers. It has the feel of a classic pulp adventure without the predictable plot and characters. It’s truly surprising, and a lot of fun to read.
4 out of 5 stars
Testimonial from a reader:
" I read The Smart Kid by Bob Miller.
It was pretty gripping.
It pulled me in and made me want to read the next chapter.
I liked the suspense right at the beginning of the story.
He had a lot of creativity in how he wrote the story and developed it, and how he misdirected.
All the pieces fall together, in the end, if you're paying attention.
I really am excited to read the second book now.
His story builds around the sixties and seventies. And the story gave me a lot of nostalgia, remembering what it was like in that era, in the 70s.
It was Creatively Suspenseful, and at times quite emotional.
Really got my adrenaline going.
He's got a real gift with words.
It's an amazing story!"
- by Mary Jo B.