RARA-AVIS: Shadow Men by Jonathon King

From: Larson, Craig ( Craig.Larson@trinidadstate.edu)
Date: 25 Apr 2004

Following a huge April snowstorm that closed pretty much everything, I spent the weekend holed up with a bunch of new books, including _White Devils_ by Paul McAuley,
_Midnight Mass_ by F. Paul Wilson, and the newest Max Freeman novel, _Shadow Men_ by Jonathon King.

I can remember reading King's debut, _The Blue Edge of Midnight_ and thinking it had best debut Edgar written all over it. So I was excited when his second book came out. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as impressed by this second novel, _A Visible Darkness_. In moving the action away from the Everglades, where his character, Max Freeman, an ex-policeman turned private detective lived in virtual isolation, a lot of the magic of the debut was lost. Apparently, King learned from this because book three is a real keeper.

_Shadow Men_ involves the search for three men, a father and his two sons, who may have been killed 80 years before during the construction of the first road across the Everglades. All that one of their descendants has to go by are a few letters, which hint at some rather nefarious goings-on at the work site. Apparently, the company which has hired the men isn't so willing to let them go, once they become disenchanted with the tropical heat and the clouds of mosquitoes.

Someone in the present day isn't too excited about Max and his lawyer friend, Billy Manchester, digging into this old mystery. Apparently, if the chain of evolution can be uncovered, a modern corporation can be held liable for something done decades ago.

The action in the novel moves around a lot, but it remains firmly focused on the Everglades themselves, as Max and the old Gladesman Nate Brown, who made an appearance in the second book, search for what may or may not be the final resting place of the three men. There are some great, atmospheric sequences that take place out in the swamps and a memorable scene has Max and Nate crawl into the darkness of an abandoned alligator hole to hide from a couple of men who are tracking them.

Coupled with a subplot that involves Max's policewoman girlfriend and a friend of hers, also a policewoman, who is being stalked by her abusive policeman boyfriend, a subplot that connects directly to Max's past, the book literally flies along. It is very fast- moving and, ultimately, very, very satisfying. Easily one of the best mysteries I've read this year.

Craig Larson Trinidad, CO

# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 25 Apr 2004 EDT