Guest Post – The Last Drive by John W. Howell #newbook

Liz: I am delighted to welcome John Howell today to talk about his latest release, The Last Drive. I’ve been following John’s blog for several years now, and I always look forward to the humor in his posts.

John: I am so pleased to be with you today, Liz. Thank you for helping spread the word about The Last Drive. As an author, poet, academic advisor, teacher,  higher education administrator and navy wife you have certainly lived several lives. You have done all these things without having to reincarnate. Which brings up something this book is not. It is not about reincarnation. My characters get one kick at the can, so to speak, and whatever bed they made in this life they must lay in the next.

Here is the blurb and then we can get to a short excerpt from the book.

The Blurb

In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing.

The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey take the pair to horrifying testing grounds. The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.

This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good.

An Excerpt

James and Sam don’t have to wait long. The medic calls to them, “Your ride’s ready,” and shows them to the ambulance. The bench seat next to the driver allows room for both of them. James makes a crack about being grateful for a place up front. The driver barely looks in his direction. Without too much to say, James and Sam ride along in silence. After a few bone-jarring ruts, the driver clears his throat.

“You two looking for anyone in particular?”

Sam puts her hand on James’s arm. “What makes you think we’re looking for someone?”

The driver glances in their direction. “I don’t know. A couple out here in the middle of a war just look out of place. I figured you were looking for someone, is all. No offense.”

Sam turns to the driver. “None taken. Your question surprised me.”

“Yeah, I can understand that. You see, I’ve been driving this here ambulance and always have dead guys in the back. I never had anyone hitch a ride before. I just had to ask.”

James leans forward. “We’re looking for a pilot. Ryan Sanders. You know him?”

The driver peers at the rutted road ahead. “Is he alive?”

James smiles. “We hope so.”

The driver shakes his head. “Not a chance I would meet him, then.”

James sits back. “Okay, thanks anyway. He’s with a flyer named Eddie.”

The driver leans over the wheel and looks at James. “Eddie? You don’t mean Eddie Rickenbacker?”

“Yes. Have you seen him?”

The driver pushes his cap farther back on his head. “He’s about the most famous pilot around. I haven’t seen him, but I know where he hangs out. You’ll find him in the Officer’s Club at the aerodrome.”

James leans forward to catch the driver’s eye. “Wow, thanks. Any chance you can take us there?”

The driver pulls his cap lower. “We go right by the place. I’ll drop you off.”

“Thank you so much.”

“You a friend of Eddie?”

Sam looks at the driver. “No. We know Ryan, and we heard he’s flying with Eddie’s group.”

“Well, close enough. Any friend of Eddie’s is a friend of mine. Name’s Roy.”

The Trailer

Liz’s Review

As the sequel to Eternal Road, The Last Drive by John Howell features the two main characters from the first book: James, a young man who was recently killed in an car accident, and Samantha (Sam), a now-grown friend from James’s childhood, who was murdered when she was seven years old. In Eternal Road, Sam served as James’s spirit guide to help him find his eternal home.

In The Last Drive, Sam has been asked by the Archangel Michael to find Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I flying ace, and Ryan Sanders, an Air Force pilot who was recently killed in Afghanistan when he stayed in his burning plane to avoid crashing into a civilian settlement. Eddie is serving as Ryan’s spirit guide to find his eternal home; however, the two have gone missing. The Archangel suspects they have crossed paths with Lucifer, who is forever trolling for souls who haven’t yet found their eternal home.

Sam’s response to the Archangel is the same as mine would have been: “ ‘I’m surprised God and yourself don’t keep track of this kind of thing.’ ” Including this exchange in the opening chapter is a good demonstration of Howell’s skill in suspending the reader’s disbelief in the fictional world he has created.

The Archangel’s response to Sam’s question raises thorny questions of free will, predestination, and Divine intervention. These questions hover over the four main characters’ subsequent interactions with Lucifer. In fact, at one point, Sam proposes a deal with the Devil that took me completely by surprise–but was oh, so right.

As the prime mover of villainy, Lucifer chooses to torture Sam, James, Ryan, and Eddie with a series of moral dilemmas by plunking them into horrific historical events, including the sinking of the Titanic, the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. For people who are essentially good, this would be the equivalent of being dangled over a lake of fire by one ankle.

However, the Lucifer of The Last Drive tries to present himself as the charming rogue or, at times, the cartoonish, mustache-twirling villain–all in an attempt to manipulate the souls he is going after into underestimating him.

One aspect of the novel I particularly appreciated was that, although the same afterlife “rules” were carried over from Eternal Road to The Last Drive, new ones were introduced that surprised me, in particular that education continues into the afterlife. Although this feature of the afterlife is used as a plot device to give Sam and James the knowledge they need to extricate themselves from Lucifer’s clutches, I think it’s more than that. If we think of the afterlife as eternal paradise, then it makes perfect sense that the ability to learn and gain new knowledge would be a part of it. Learning for its own sake is, at its heart, a joyous and life-affirming act. (Take THAT, Lucifer.)

To sum up, I found The Last Drive an engaging and satisfying read. The stakes of the plot are high, the action fast-paced, the historical research thorough, and the main characters well-developed and likable (with the exception of Lucifer, of course). In addition to the other surprises I’ve noted, the ending of The Last Drive also surprised me–in the best possible way. I highly recommend this surprising sequel to Eternal Road!

Buy Links

The Last Drive is available in paper and Kindle editions on Amazon. Here are the universal links. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢ through mid-February.



Author Bio

John is an award-winning author who after an extensive business career began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written six other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Author links

Blog Fiction Favorites,

Facebook –

Twitter –

Goodreads –

Amazon Author’s page –

BookBub –

Eternal Road Buy links

Kindle Universal link

Paper universal link

172 thoughts on “Guest Post – The Last Drive by John W. Howell #newbook

  1. Thank you Liz for another rich review full of interest and detail. I find the premise and the “stakes” of and in this book, fascinating. My kind of genre!!
    Thank you for leaving the reader to discover the ending without any spoilers, adds to the intrigue.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Gosh, John drives all over the world visiting wonderful bloggers like you, Liz. I’m halfway through this last book of John’s and already wondering if there might be a sequel to the sequel. Love Sam and James’ adventures.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent summary on your review, Liz. We frequently hear about the importance of stakes in literature, and they don’t get much higher than in The Last Drive.

    Great point also about how some of the rules changed from Eternal Road.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Pete. You’re right that the stakes in fiction don’t get much higher than those in The Last Drive.

      I was surprised by the surprises in The Last Drive. It was one of the aspects I enjoyed most about the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A fabulous review, Liz.
    I’m excited to read the book, which I will begin in a couple of weeks.
    I’m quite keen on the Titanic part (the gown possibilities), and the Hiroshima part (Kimonos)
    The images are all in my head at this point. I’m excited to see what John draws out!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a creative take on a fascinating part of history! I love good research and imaginative approaches to life’s deep questions, embedded in an engaging story. Thanks for introducing us to the series and the latest book, Liz and John.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m rather surprised that I missed this post (after scrolling through the comments, it seems I was the only one. Lol). An awesome review, Liz. I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on the book. Huge congrats to John on another successful stop. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review, Liz. I had read reviews of John’s book, and what I liked about yours was mentioning how in John’s book, there is this continual need to learn and adapt even in the afterlife 🙂 That is comforting in many ways – and for me, a book with time travel, history, and philosophical thoughts can offer great exchange between characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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