Posts Tagged ‘thriller novel’

Adventure and intrigue await a small party of climbers at the top of the world in Dan Simmons’s ‘The Abominable’

December 6, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 6, 2019

1924. Europe is recovering — some parts more quickly than others — from the Great War. The world’s highest summit, Mount Everest, has yet to be scaled, although the Royal Geographic Society and other adventurers are keenly interested in doing so. Mountaineering in general is a hazardous endeavor, even as some climbers have begun using bottled air to battle the oxygen deprivation that is endemic at higher altitudes.

Near the beginning of The Abominable, Dan Simmons’s 2013 novel, a 37-year-old English war hero secures backing from the family of a British aristocrat who’s disappeared on the perilous slope. Together with two fellow climbers — Jean-Claude Clairouox, 25, certified by the world’s oldest association of mountain guides, and the narrator, Jacob Perry, 22, a recent Harvard graduate and member of an esteemed Boston clan — Richard Davis Deacon gathers the equipment and expertise that the trio will need to find a body high up on the colossal peak.

“The Deacon,” as his friends call him, wishes to conduct the trip in secrecy in an effort to avoid interference from potential rivals. Deacon has other reasons for the clandestine approach, as Perry and the readers will discover in the course of events. Together with a party of Sherpas, a cousin of the missing Lord Percival Bromley who operates a Darjeeling tea plantation, and a hardy doctor with an unusual background, the climbers confront a variety of antagonists, not least of which is the massive mountain’s challenging terrain and formidable weather.

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Characters attempt to stave off madness amidst the deep freeze in Matthew Iden’s entertaining thriller ‘The Winter Over’

March 18, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
March 18, 2018

Matthew Iden’s 2017 novel The Winter Over is an entertaining thriller set at an isolated Antarctic station beset by a growing number of troubling events.

The main character is an engineer who as the book opens is about to spend her first winter at Shackleton South Pole Research Facility. (This fictitious base is modeled after a real place, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.) Cass Jennings and her colleagues are disturbed to discover, just days before the start of roughly nine months of isolation, that a resident has frozen to death.

That’s hardly the only blow to morale. A few weeks after the deep freeze has cut the station off from the outside world, unexplained glitches disrupt Shackleton’s heat, electrical and communications systems. The outpost’s troubles begin accumulating, placing Jennings and everyone else under extraordinary pressure.

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Super-detective Jack Reacher stars in Lee Child’s taut ‘Tripwire’

May 21, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 21, 2013

Jack Reacher, the über-capable fictional former Army detective, made his feature film debut in the 2012 movie that bears his name. But the ex-MP who could has been around since 1997, when England-born Lee Child released Killing Floor, the first of what is now a 16-book series.

Some months ago, I read and enjoyed Echo Burning, which lists as the seventh Reacher book in its narrative (not real-world publication) chronology. A few weeks ago, I began Tripwire, which dates to 1999.

The story begins when a New York City detective searching for Reacher encounters our hero in a strip club in the Florida Keys. Reacher, wary of attention, lies about his identity. A few hours later, the detective is dead, and the hero knows that he must find out who killed him and why.

The quest leads Reacher to the New York City suburbs, where he unexpectedly finds himself attending a wake for his friend and former commanding officer, Leon Garber. Yet this discovery, like many in Tripwire, simply leads to more questions. Jodie Garber has been searching for Reacher because that was what her father was doing. But why was Leon doing so? Read the rest of this entry »

Über-detective unravels a Texas family’s tangled legacy in ‘Echo Burning’

February 5, 2013

You can’t beat Jack Reacher one on one. You can only hope to outmaneuver him.

That, in a nutshell, is the essence of Jack Reacher, the super-competent über-detective who is the star of Lee Child’s series of thriller novels. Reacher is a retired Army MP, or military policeman, an efficient killer with a razor-sharp intellect and in-depth experience with forensics and human psychology. If he had to engage Superman or Batman in man-to-man combat, Reacher could win — given enough time, information and resources to prepare effectively.

Before this week, I was familiar with Child’s work only through the recent movie Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise. On a relative’s recommendation, I dove into Reacher’s 2001 novel, Echo Burning, in which the almost oppressively effective hero finds himself plunged into a messy situation in the hot, sparsely populated Echo County in rural Texas.

The book pits Reacher against at least two sets of antagonists. One is the Greer clan, a tight-knit family with extensive roots in Echo that doesn’t cotton to outsiders.

Unfortunately for them, while hitchhiking in Texas, Reacher is picked up by Carmen Greer. A Latina out of California who has married into the family, Carmen is still considered an outsider, despite having borne her husband a lovely daughter. Worse yet, her husband beats her savagely. Even worse he’s about to get out of prison. Worst of all, the improbably named Sloop Greer blames Carmen — correctly so! — for his having been sent to prison on tax evasion charges.  Read the rest of this entry »

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