January by Gabrielle Craig Lorg has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Conspiracy 365" series.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Fifteen-year-old Callum Ormond misses his father, who died of a mysterious disease nine months earlier. On New Year's Eve, a crazy-looking man rushes toward Cal in the street. He tells Cal that "they" killed his father and will kill Cal, too, if he doesn't hide for the next 365 days. The man mentions something called "The Ormond Singularity" just before two men cart him off in an ambulance.
Confused, Cal joins Mum, his little sister, Gabbi, and his uncle, Rafe (dad's identical twin), to watch fireworks. Later, he and Rafe are on the family's boat, and Cal suggests they should return to shore because of an impending squall. Rafe ignores Cal's warnings, and the two are caught in a storm. Rafe is thrown from the boat, later washing up on the shore alive, and Cal battles sharks before being rescued by helicopter.
Cal begins to wonder about The Ormond Singularity. He recalls his father's last photojournalist job: His dad had gone to Ireland to film a documentary about Australian families with an Irish history. He'd written to Cal that he'd discovered a significant secret about the Ormond family, but Cal shouldn't mention it to anyone. The letter included a drawing of an angel in World War I combat gear with wings and a flaming sword. His dad promised further explanation later.
On Jan. 2, Cal and his family find their house ransacked. An empty spot in a jewelry box in Cal's father's suitcase indicates the intruders stole something. A few days later, an envelope arrives for Cal. Rafe takes it, insisting it has to do with the Dad's estate, which he's managing. Cal knows Rafe is lying and that the envelope includes secrets about The Ormond Singularity. He breaks into Rafe's house, finds the envelope and learns from a doctor's letter that his dad's sketches were sent as a message to Cal. The drawings he mentions are missing.
Cal receives a call from a woman claiming to be a nurse who cared for his dad before he died. She says she has confidential information for Cal. When Cal goes to meet her, he is captured and questioned by thugs who want to know about The Ormond Singularity. He escapes through a skylight and returns home to find that someone has drained the money from his family's bank account. More suspicious of Rafe than ever, Cal takes his friend Boges to the Ormond family mausoleum. Guards chase them away.
Back at home, Cal finds his house has been invaded, again. Rafe is bleeding on the floor, and Gabbi isn't breathing. Once Cal has done CPR on her and is sure Gabbi will live, he hears people coming and escapes.
Later, he sees his picture on a TV screen in a hotel lobby and discovers police suspect he attacked Rafe and Gabbi. He returns to the mausoleum and finally finds more of his father's pictures (hidden by Rafe).
Realizing he can't return home, he finds an abandoned house in which to hide. Boges brings him food and information. He spends his days pouring over his dad's cryptic pictures, trying to discover their secrets. Cal makes contact with his mother but is unable to convince her of his innocence.
Cal is captured a second time by a different set of thugs. When he cannot give them the information they want, they put him in a tank which begins filling with oil. He's about to drown as the book ends.
January is the first book in a series of 12 in which Cal attempts to stay alive while solving the mystery of The Ormond Singularity.
Cal offers up a few silent prayers when he's in danger. Some of the pictures drawn by Cal's dad include an angel in a World War I uniform.
Other Belief Systems
Gabbi gives Cal a Celtic ring their dad gave her. She says it will keep him safe. Cal says his dad didn't go to church much. He thought life was his religion, tried to live with gratitude in good and bad times and thought people could expand their minds in the same way that the universe was expanding. Rafe suggests that between the sharks attacking Cal and him getting washed out to sea, they've had some bad luck. Cal wonders if there was a sixth sense between twin brothers Dad and Rafe.
The word crap appears twice. Cal is pursued by sharks. He finds his uncle and sister badly injured in their home. Neither scene is graphic.
Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.
Smoking: Rafe smokes cigars.
Lying: Cal lies to keep his family's secrets from the bad guys. Rafe lies in an effort to obtain family secrets.
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Readability Age Range
9 and up
Published in Australia, the series is distributed in the U.S. by Usborne Books and Kane Miller, a division of EDC Publishing