Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wild Thing

Wild Thing by Josh Bazell

In Josh Bazell's debut novel Beat the Reaper, he introduced Peter Brown, a medical resident who also happens to be a former mafia assassin turned state's evidence and is now in the witness protection program. The story that followed was like a Jason Stathem movie - outlandish, full of action, and a little bizarre. I liked it.

In Wild Thing three years have passed in Brown's life. He's now a physician on a cruise ship, going by another name, and still hiding from his former associates in the mob. He's soon taken away from his life on the seas, hired to protect Dr. Violet Hurst, a paleontologist who's being sent to investigate some gruesome and mysterious deaths.

The deaths have been occurring on a Minnesota lake where for years people have been claiming to have caught glimpses of something that was previously only believed to reside in Loch Ness. The bodies found along the lake's shoreline recently have been giving credence to the stories being told and Dr. Hurst is being sent there to get to the bottom of things.

Like its predecessor, Wild Thing gets moving quickly. Both the action and Bazell's biting sense of humor never let up as things unfold in an ever-increasingly ludicrous storyline. Unfortunately Wild Thing lacks a little of Beat the Reaper's stamina. Parts of it were great - the footnotes were frequently the highlights of the book, but at times it lost its appeal. Sarah Palin's appearance as a character was a high note, but I don't know what the point of the appendix was. One more thing, I'm not usually put off by strong language in a book, but this time I feel obligated to mention it as a warning. It's consistent and would be an issue for some.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Brock Clarke

Brock Clarke teaches creative writing at Bowdoin College in Maine and is the author of three novels: The Ordinary White Boy, An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, and most recently Exley. I have yet to read the first one, but the other two were both exellent and unique enough that I wanted to ask him some questions about his writing. Here's what he had to say:

I've read your last two books and the thing that stood out to me the most in both of them was the main character. Both Sam Pulsifer and Miller Le Ray were very intriguing and not what I'd consider typical protagonists. What was the reaction you received from your readers regarding them?

The reaction has been mostly positive. I mean, if you like these books, then you like their narrators, and I'm supposing the opposite is true, too. And when I say "like" I mean aesthetically (which is to say, people like the way they're written) and also, I guess, personally. I only mention this because occasionally people complain that my characters/narrators are unlikable. By which I think they mean that my characters/narrators are not people they necessarily want to marry, or something. And my reaction to that is, good: because sometimes the people we marry would make bad characters.

While reading both of those books, I spent most of the book wondering how much of what was going on was reality or merely a product of the main characters' imaginations. Before you write the book, do you have the story pretty well mapped out in your mind from beginning to end, or how much do the story and the characters evolve during the writing process?

I don't have it mapped out, for better or worse. I had a clearer conception of things with Exley--about what was going on in Miller's head, and what the reality was--and I ended up writing a fairly finished first draft pretty quickly. But then, upon smart second look, I realized that my conception of things was a little too certain, and that what was going on outside Miller's head wasn't as clear as it needed to be for the reader. Which is where Doctor Pahnee ended up coming on. He was the best thing that happened to that book's second draft: he became a reader's advocate, even though he himself is not necessarily totally reliable.

With Arsonist's Guide, I had nothing mapped out, which ended up getting me into considerable trouble with my early drafts, after which I was in total despair. But then, once I hit upon Sam's voice, things came relatively easily and plot points appeared as needed, which is sometimes better than as planned.

Both Sam and Miller seemed to have a difficult time dealing with and accepting the world around them as it actually was and tried to make it conform to their own senses of reality. Where does your inspiration for characters like that come from? How much do you think all of us do that to one extent or another?

I think that's true of some of us. I wouldn't want to presume to speak for the entire human race. But for me, the most interesting people--on page, and otherwise--have a difficult time dealing with and accepting the world around them. Because when they try to change the world, or lie about it, or themselves, then odd things happen, and then other people react to odd things happening, and before you know it you have a book, or a life.

What type of a reaction to your books do you hope for when you write them?

Universal admiration. But I'll settle for, and welcome, random bits of praise from strangers over the internet. I do love that. Although universal admiration would also be pretty great.

What can you say about what you're working on right now and when might it be published?

I'm working on a novel called The Happiest People in the World. It's about people from Denmark and also people from upstate New York, and also terrorists, cartoonists, and high school guidance counselors. It's due to my publisher within the year. It's actually due within the half year, but I'm just going to go ahead and say "within the year" and hope that sticks.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Technologists

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

In my opinion Matthew Pearl is one of the best authors of historical fiction writing today. In his three previous books he used the translation of Dante's Inferno, the mystery behind the death of Edgar Allen Poe, and Charles Dickens's final unfinished book The Mystery of Edwin Drood as historical backgrounds for three highly entertaining stories. The Technologists is another very entertaining book.

The Civil War has been over for a couple of years now, and in the shadow of the esteemed Harvard University, another institute of higher learning has been created. Only instead of focusing on the classical subjects studied at Harvard, it's the lesser respected and even feared subjects of science and technology that are studied at this institution - MIT.

When inexplicable phenomena such as all the compasses on the ships in the harbor simultaneously losing their ability to point north, and all of the glass within a whole city block instantly melting, the mistrust people feel for science reaches a fever pitch. And it's the professors and students at MIT that become the targets of the public's fear and animosity. When both the police and the great minds at Harvard prove inept at solving the mysteries behind the calamities around Boston, four members of MIT's soon-to-be-first graduating class take up the task of both solving the mysteries behind what's happening to their city and clearing the reputation of their fledgling institution.

The Technologists is a smart thriller and I think Matthew Pearl is a gifted author. While the book isn't perfect, I think that at times the story became convoluted and Pearl tried to cram too much of his research and knowledge into the story, it was still a lot of fun to read and makes me look forward to reading the next book he'll write.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Jefferson Key

The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry
(Cotton Malone series #7)

The Jefferson Key is another solid offering by Steve Berry featuring his recurring character Cotton Malone, the ex-operative for the Justice Department who can't seem to stay retired.

When the founding fathers drafted the U.S. Constitution, they included a little-known clause that has never been amended. The clause exempted those who used piracy or privateering to protect the interests of this country from criminal prosecution. Ever since the Revolutionary War, a group of pirates known as the Commonwealth has existed - operating with total immunity from the law as long as their actions served the interests of the country, and they paid a percentage of their profits to the U.S. Treasury.

Four former Presidents tried to stand up to the Commonwealth and change their constitutional loophole -  Garfield, McKinley, Lincoln, and Kennedy, and they all met with similar fates. Only one, Andrew Jackson, who survived an assassination attempt, was able to stand up to the Commonwealth and put into motion a plan that might eventually take them down.

Now, after the Commonwealth's attempted assassination of President Daniels, Cotton Malone and Cassiopia Vitt are enlisted to finish what Jackson began long ago. But to do so, they have to crack an undecipherable code that was created back when Thomas Jefferson was the President.

The Jefferson Key is good. It's exactly what I expect when I read one of Berry's books. It's got a high level of action and Berry does a good job keeping you on your toes. The plot twists are a little predictable, having read all of his other books, but his books are still fun and worthwhile reads.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two-Book Giveaway

Seth Grahame-Smith's publisher offered me two new books to give away. The first is a paperback edition of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which will soon be very popular with the upcoming release of the Tim Burton movie. The second book is a hardcover first edition of his new book Unholy Night which will be released in April. From the inside flap:

They're an iconic part of history's most celebrated birth. But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity, besides the fact that they followed a star to Bethlehem bearing strange gifts? The Bible has little to say about this enigmatic trio. But leave it to Seth Grahame-Smith, the brilliant and twisted mind behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to take a little mystery, bend a little history, and weave an epic tale.

In Grahame-Smith's telling, the so-called "Three Wise Men" are infamous thieves, led by the dark, murderous Balthazar. After a daring escape from Herod's prison, they stumble upon the famous manger and its newborn king. The last thing Balthazar needs is to be slowed down by young Joseph, Mary and their infant. But when Herod's men begin to slaughter the first born in Judea, he has no choice but to help them escape to Egypt.

It's the beginning of an adventure that will see them fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament; cross paths with biblical figures like Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist; and finally deliver them to Egypt. It may just be the greatest story never told.

It pains me to give away the new book and not keep it for myself, but that's the kind of guy I am. So here's how it's going to work. If you're interested, and you currently live in the US, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post before April 1st. To select who will receive the book, I'll assign a number to each comment based on the order posted. I'll then enter the numbers into a complex, non-discriminatory computer algorithm I've written, so as to be sure of anonymity and fairness . . . or I'll just pick a number out of a hat. The winner will be emailed for their address and the books will then be shipped free of charge. Good luck. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Some Questions for Author Eric Garcia

I'm a big fan of Eric Garcia's books. He's written three "dino-mafia-crime" books which take place in a world where not all dinosaurs went extinct, they merely evolved into smaller dinos, and now--with the help of adhesives, straps, and latex human suits, walk among the unwitting human population. 

His other three books contain no dinosaurs, but definitely contain Garcia's sense of humor, satire, and wit. Matchstick Men was made into a movie staring Nicholas Cage and Sam Rockwell. Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys is a "hard-core chick-lit satire" about a woman fed up with the seemingly endless shortcomings of the men she dates and decides to enroll them in a "finishing school" in her basement against their will. And most recently The Repossession Mambo, a sci-fi story about men who repossess transplanted organs from recipients who fall behind in their payments which was made into the movie Repo Men with Jude Law and Forest Whitaker.

Mr. Garcia was kind enough to let me ask him some questions about writing and his books. Here's what he had to say--

The first books of yours I read were the "Rex" books. Something about their titles attracted me to them.

First question out of the gate, and already I've got to assign credit for this to someone else. My editor at Random House, Jon Karp, was the one who originally suggested the title ANONYMOUS REX. The title I had before that was, well, awful, and we knew we'd need a new one, but I wasn't having any luck coming up with it. One day I got a fax (this was back in '98, mind you, when faxes were still all the rage) with just two words on it: Anonymous Rex. Immediately I popped to it, and the title was born. I'll take credit for Casual Rex and Hot & Sweaty Rex, but to be fair I was just riffing off Jon's idea. For a while, at signings, I'd take suggestions for other book titles and hand out candy to the winners; I've got quite the raunchy list now, should I write any more. In any case, glad they drew you to the books -- I've picked up many a book solely because of its title. 

They were a lot of fun to read and I would have loved for the TV series based on them to have been successful.

Sigh -- me, too, obviously. I think there was a bit of an object lesson in it for me, in that I was still quite young, new to the business, and allowed the TV show to die a death of a thousand cuts. Compromise happens in almost invisible increments out here -- if you're not looking for them, you'll never see them coming. Now that I've been in the Hollywood side of things for a while, I'm starting to understand when to fight, how to fight, and what fights I may or may not win. I figure sometime in the next 30-40 years or so I may actually have it all figured out.

Do you have any plans for more books with Vincent Rubio and the dinosaur mafia?

I've always got some Rubio books in the back of my mind, but right now there's nothing that's pressing hard to get out. At one point I had an idea to go far back and detail the early-1900s immigrant experience via Vincent's ancestors (imagine Godfather II or Once Upon A Time In America, via the dinos), but for now it's just a bunch of pages on my hard drive.

That said, the ease and immediacy of the e-publishing business has me intrigued, to the point where I've had some conversations about doing a series of linked Vincent Rubio-type stories in serialized fashion, something we could never do via traditional publishing (unless I were Stephen King, which, well, no.) We'll see -- I'm a little swamped these days, and I wouldn't want to give it short shrift. But I do have a lasting fondness for Vincent, I can't deny that.

If I hadn't read your other books first, I probably never would have considered reading CFFSFB, but I'm very glad I did. I have to admit the only people I've recommended it to are all women because of what Owen gets subjected to. What was the feedback you got from men versus women with that book?

I do tend to get the strongest feedback from women, which is unsurprising. Some of the feedback is perhaps a bit too strong -- this is a novel, not an instruction manual -- but I'm gratified that people took Cassandra's frustrations, if not her methods, to heart. There are men who enjoy it, as well, but it's got a much stronger following among the ladies.

We're making a TV pilot based on the book right now for MTV, and this time I'm the executive producer (alongside Krysten Ritter, who most people know as an actress, but she's also great at development), and I've done the adaptation myself -- point being, I'm trying to learn from the Anonymous Rex TV situation and retain a certain amount of control. I certainly don't claim to know everything -- or even much of anything -- when it comes to what makes TV hit or not -- but I do know what I think is funny, and I'd like to make sure that comes across. The great thing is that MTV is completely behind it, in a startlingly clear and frank way. They love the brazen attitude and when I try to hold back, they push me to go even further -- it's been great so far.

One of the things we're keen to do is make sure that, while it's certainly a female-oriented show, it will also capture men (pun only subliminally intended). It's something that's definitely forefront in my mind.

I should mention that I'm also in the middle of turning CFFSFB into a theatrical musical. I'm a total musical theater geek (don't get me started), and I've got a great friend and fantastic composer in Brian Feinstein; we've been writing songs and transforming it for the stage for over a year now. It's taken some time, and will no doubt take some more, as these things do, but I love taking Cassie and her friends and bringing them into all these different forms of expression. Favorite bit about the musical so far: there's a chain-gang number with the boys in the basement. It's so wrong, and yet works so well.

The thing about that book that impressed me the most was that you wrote it from the perspective of a woman who has some pretty significant issues with men, and you did it so well. How much coaching did you get from the women in your life while writing it? And did you worry about giving your wife any ideas that could come back to haunt you?

Ha -- fortunately, my wife and I have been together for so long (married over 16 years, together for over 20), those days are long past. Whatever changes she wanted to make have already been realized, no doubt, and it didn't take a basement and rope.

That does seem to be people's first reaction -- "I can't believe a man wrote this" -- which is certainly gratifying. My goal was to have an honest female voice (doing this incredibly dishonest thing) so as to both laud and satirize the chick-lit genre at the same time, and it seems to have worked.

There were certainly elements of the book which took some research and interviews with women I knew -- my friend Laine, for example, was my fashion go-to guru -- but for the most part I think it's because I tend to surround myself with a lot of women. Most of my closest friends (including my wife) are female, both now and while I was growing up, and I can empathize with the issues. Plus, I've now got two daughters -- and a female dog -- and my mother hangs out here a lot, and I've been told that all of our household fish are females... so I'm pretty much swimming in estrogen day-in, day-out. If it weren't for the NFL Network running 24-7 on my TV, I'm not sure if I'd even grow stubble any more.

So I'd say it's even weirder that the non-Cassandra stuff I write is as violent and masculine as it is. But that's just a function of my inherent boredom and need for mental change -- writing CFFSFB and then switching over to, say, The Repossession Mambo is my way of keeping the cobwebs from piling up.

Matchstick Men is probably my favorite of your books and I would venture to guess your most successful seller based on the success of the movie and the fact that everyone I've recommended it to has really liked it. I'm always curious about books with surprise endings. Did you know exactly how the story would end when you began it?

I did! I think for a book like that you sort of have to, and without giving anything away (in case anyone hasn't read it or seen the film), I can say that the idea for the book started with two characters (Roy and Angela), Roy's illness (OCD), and the ending. From there, I started to put the rest of it together, and the story fleshed out. But the last two chapters were forefront in my mind while I was structuring it, and I knew exactly where I wanted Roy to start out and where I wanted him to end up.

It doesn't always work that way with my books -- sometimes I just have the character and the idea and I see where the world takes it, and it all gets banged around and smoothed out in multiple edits. For Matchstick, though, it was plot-character-plot driving the concept from the very start.

Are you currently working on a book? If so, what can you tell me about it?

I feel like I'm always working on a new book; it's just something I do now as a matter of course. Unfortunately, it's been taking much longer than it ever has in the past due to my commitments on the film and television fronts. That said, my happiest, most productive days are those in which I can sit down for six, seven, eight hours and fall into prose. Time speeds by, the usual banalities of hunger and sleep drift off, and by the time I look up the day is done and I'm one happy camper.

Also unfortunately, I've got one silly little rule that I've stuck with since the very beginning: I don't talk about my books until they're done. I can pitch TV, film, theater, etc., but I keep quiet about the books. Don't know why, but it's worked so far, so I don't fix what isn't broken. Soon as I'm done, I'll let you know. Then you'll probably have a hard time shutting me up about it...

Thanks again, and good luck with the CFFSFB pilot.

Of course -- this was fun! I'll make sure to let you know how things go on the Cassandra front.


Thursday, March 8, 2012


Thunderer by Felix Gilman

Awhile back I read The Half-Made World by Gilman and really enjoyed it. What I enjoyed the most about that book was the atmosphere of the world he had created. It was a world still in the process of creation and Gilman's ability to bring that world to life was impressive.

In Thunderer, Gilman's first book, that same world-building creativity is just as apparent. The book takes place primarily in the city of Ararat, an expansive city of seemingly limitless boundaries. It's a city inhabited by both gods and mortals, and the gods who dwell there are constantly leaving their mark on the city by changing its roadways and features.

There are two storylines in Thunderer. One follows Arjun, a young man who travels from his home in Gad to Ararat searching for the god Voice. Voice disappeared from Gad years ago and Arjun believes if he is to be found, his best bet is to look in Ararat.

The second storyline follows Jack. A character very reminiscent of Dickens's Artful Dodger (also named Jack). Jack escapes from a workhouse for children and forms his own band of child thieves and vigilantes whose goal is to empty all the workhouses and gaols in Ararat.

Unfortunately for me, neither one of the storylines grabbed me and sucked me in. They're interesting, and I'd describe the book overall as a very solid offering from a first-time novelist, but there's a noticeable improvement Gilman made by the time he wrote The Half-Made World. I wish Gilman had put the magic that exists in his book more at the forefront of the story rather than leaving it in the background as he did. A good example of what I mean is The Bird. At the beginning of the book a large bird that periodically returns to Ararat and leaves in its wake people with the temporary ability to fly, makes its appearance and is the reason Jack's escape attempt from the workhouse is successful. How or why that power, which usually fades over time, seems to get stronger with time for Jack was never made clear.

The story intrigued me enough, and based on how much I liked A Half-Made World, I'll eventually read his second book, Thunderer's sequel The Gears of the City. 

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Brief Interview with Author Warren Fahy

Warren Fahy (pronounced Fay) is the author of the international best seller Fragment. It was nominated for a BSFA and the International Thriller Writers' Best First Novel Award.

Your first book that was published, Fragment, was the type of book that I enjoy so much that I have a difficult time putting it down. I'm interested in knowing how much enjoyment you got out of writing it. 

I had a blast writing it! But it was a different kind of fun from reading it. I actually had a sign over my computer screen to remind me of what the book was: FUN. But as a writer, I was creating the most fun ride I possibly could for the reader. I envy those who got to take the ride. A writer can never really do that. Of course, the key skill in a writer is to be able to stay viscerally aware of what thrills all the way through writing a novel, no matter how many times you have to read it, especially when the novel is as complex as Fragment or Pandemonium. So the greatest fun for me was knowing how the audience would react to certain revelations, situations, destinations and procrastinations. You have to always have a sense of where the oohs and aahs and laughs and terror are going to grip the audience and why, and be aware of the flow of those highs, lows and swerves, like a musician. It's certainly great fun staging a thrill-ride! But it's not the same fun as experiencing the ride yourself; that I will never have unless I live a long time and forget the book completely. The other part of writing Fragment that was fun (and remember it had to be fun or else it was disqualified from the job) was the research. I have loved and researched science since I was a kid. Working with scientists, especially on verifying some of the facts behind  the original theories of biology in the book, was fun nearly every day. And finally, nature itself was a constant revelation. The more I thought I was inventing the more I found precedents in nature that had beaten me to it. I learned a lot about the natural world around us, ironically, by trying to create something as alien as possible for the sake of the story.

When it came out, I remember reading some comparisons people were making between you and the late Michael Crichton. Do you pay any attention to things like that? Does it make you feel any added pressure when you write? 

It didn't add any pressure until I found out, after the novel had been bought in a feeding frenzy reminiscent of Henders Island, that Michael Crichton had died. It was a shock, and it happened while I was at HarperCollins in London, his publisher. I was informed only minutes after meeting his editor and had noticed that she was subdued and seemed distraught. That was so unexpected and so very sad. Dreadful, really. Then the comparisons people were making seemed ghoulish. I hated that.

From what I understand, your sequel to Fragment, Pandemonium, was released exclusively as an ebook awhile back due to some creative differences with your publisher. Then because of its popularity, it created a lot of interest from publishers and is no longer available as an ebook. Can you tell me if we can expect to see it in print anytime soon? And when it comes out, how close will it be to your original? 

Yes, Tor Books will be publishing the novel in about 9 months time, in hardback. It will be very close to the version I very briefly published. But better. ;)

I've heard some authors say that they write for themselves and that they would write the same thing regardless of how many people would want to read it. I've also heard other authors say that when they write, they're constantly considering whether what they're writing will appeal to their readers. Which group would you say you fall in?


Are you willing to say anything about the epic fantasy series I've read you're working on?

The epic fantasy is a rollicking sea voyage through a maze of monsters, a story of a 17-year-old sorcerer-king who inherits a kingdom too young, a romance, and every cool thing I could cram into it over 30 years of working on it since I was 12 years old. I love it! Hope to find a home in print for it soon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Brief Interview with Author Daniel H. Wilson

I had the idea of trying to expanding this blog a little to include not just reviews of the books I read, but if possible, to include some brief interviews with authors that I enjoy. I don't know how often they'll accommodate my requests, but you never know unless you try, right? This is my first - and hopefully not last post of its kind.

Daniel H. Wilson has a Masters Degree in Machine Learning and a PhD in Robotics. He is the author of the novel Robopocalypse, which appeared on the NYT Bestseller List, as well as some non-fiction titles including Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived & How to Build a Robot Army: Tips on Defending Planet Earth Against Alien Invaders, Ninjas, and ZombiesHis next book Amped will be published this summer.

I understand that Robopocalypse is being made into a movie by Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg directing it. That must feel incredibly satisfying as an author to have a story you wrote get that type of attention. As the creator of the story, what type of feelings do you have about turning it over to someone else and letting them take some kind of ownership for it?

I can understand how it would be scary to hand over something that you've had total control over, and then sit on your hands waiting to see what will happen. But Steven Spielberg is directing Robopocalypse. I'm sitting on my hands, sure, but I'm sitting in the front row and I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

The story is told in much the same way as was Dracula and more recently World War Z by Max Brooks, using various accounts and sources to tell the story rather than the typical narrative style. Were either of those books influential in the way you told Robopocalypse?

I enjoyed both of those books, and the incredible success of World War Z certainly helped Robopocalypse get sold. The vignette narrative style is so useful in an epic story because it lets you jump between all the awesome things that are happening and drop most of the boring connective tissue. That said, Robopocalypse does have persistent characters who come together into a single story by the end.

Your PhD in Robotics obviously served you well in writing Robopocalypse and your other works. Do you think you’ll always write books where futuristic technology plays a major role? Or are there other types of stories that you think are inside you that will eventually get written?

I love thinking about the relationship we have with our technology. That will probably always be an underlying theme of whatever I write. It's an ancient relationship that the first humans had and future humans will have, so I don't think I'll run out of stories.

I read in another interview that you gave that you don’t really worry about the possibility of an eventual robot uprising. What realistically do you think the future of Artificial Intelligence in computers could be?

AI is already smarter than we are in many specific domains. This will continue until they're smarter than we are period. As human beings, we will respond by doing what we do best -- adapting.

Your next book, Amped which will be out this summer looks equally entertaining. How was the writing process for that one different from what you did for Robopocalypse?

Amped is near future story in which a massive civil rights movement has been sparked by people with disabilities who are cured by neural implants that make them smarter than regular people. It has a more traditional narrative structure, told chronologically from the perspective of one character. That made it harder to map together, but also let me go into much more detail with our protagonist. And trust me, Owen Gray goes through some serious s***.

Thanks so much for your time and I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

No worries, Sean. Thanks for your support!

My post on Robopocalypse is here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gideon's Corpse

Gideon's Corpse by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

In this second book in their new series, Preston & Child continue their fast-paced series featuring Gideon Crow, a man with a unique set of skills, and less than a year to live.

This time around the organization that recruited Gideon in Gideon's Sword enlist his help in assisting with a hostage negotiation. A former colleague of his, a nuclear scientist named Reed Chalker has gone delusional and taken a family hostage in their apartment. He's threatening to kill them all and claims that he himself was kidnapped and experimented on by government agents recently. When the standoff ends, it is quickly discovered that Chalker was suffering from radiation poisoning as a result of assembling a nuclear weapon somewhere in New York City.

As he tries to locate the nuclear weapon, Gideon learns that those behind it intend to use it in ten days somewhere in the United States.

The good news on this one is that I think it's a better book than Gideon's Sword. They were both fun, but Preston and Child seemed to gain a little better momentum with this one. Gideon and most of the other characters were better developed and the pace of the story rarely lets up.

The bad news is that the story loses plausibility at times. I'm okay with suspending my sense of reality when I read thrillers, but I still prefer and get more involved in reading a story when I feel like there's at least a remote chance that it could really happen.

Overall, it's a worthwhile book to read. I like that they're alternating publishing books in the Pendergast series and this one. I think it'll keep both of them more endearing to me for longer. Although if Gideon only has a year left to live, I don't know how many more books with him it's reasonable to expect.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆