2007, the year for creepy techno thrillers!!!

topic posted Tue, February 20, 2007 - 3:43 PM by  Yoshi
As in experiment in sobriety, I took January off, giving my body a break from the ominous amount of partying I did in the latter half of 2006. Most of you know how common it is to replace one addiction with another. I'm here to tell ya', I've realized what my new addiction is: reading fast paced murder mysteries with an occult-ish twist!

So far in 2007, I've read 8 of these pulpy page turners, and will probably finish 6 by the end of the month, at my current pace. Below is a post from a blog I did in mid-January, citing 4 of them. I'll include the rest on a later post, since I'm still at work:

1. "Black Wind" - F. Paul Wilson

This is a novel set just before and during WWII. It tells of two young men growing up in San Francisco, one an American and one a Nisei (2nd generation Japanese), each of whom ends up working for Naval Intelligence on opposite sides. "Black Wind" refers to a super secret weapon from Japan's dark Ashikaga period, able to suck the life out of all it encounters. This novel is Shakespearian in its ironic twists and turns. There is romance, but don't let that scare you's bitterly ironic romance. A good read, all the way through, especially in how Wilson illustrates the way in which the uber-nationalistic Japanese generals co-opted the alleged Divinity of their Emperor to launch the country into a wars of conquest, even though Admiral Yamamoto (the one who planned and implemted the attack on Pearl Harbor) was vehemently against it. Having studied this very subject at UCSB, I must say Mr. Wilson did an outstanding job at the research level.

2. "The Ice Limit" - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

A fabulously rich business tycoon decides to open his own museum in upstate New York, to rival even the lofty New York Museum of Natural History, (an institution that figures prominently in all of the Preston and Child novels). Upon hearing of a huge meteorite with strange properties that's just been discovered on the southern most island of Tierra del Fuego, he hires an extraction team, buys a massive cargo ship and outfits it with a team of engineers to haul this 25,000 ton behemoth back to his museum site. Of course, everything goes horribly wrong. If you like nautical novels with big storms and nail biting engineering logistics, as well as extraterrestrial rocks with a stable atomic number above 400, you will love this one.

3. "Cabinet of Curiosities" - Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

A "Cabinet of Curiosities" was what we used to have before we had such things as museums of natural history.

It was during a time when Western cultures were exploring the "savage" cultures of Africa and South America and bringing back "exotic" flora, fauna, and cultural relics, such shrunken heads, war spears, and magic talismans and totems. This novel begins with the grim discovery of a charnel with 36 mutilated skeletons under a bricked in foundation, while construction for a new multi-story apartment building is under way. Special Agent Pendergast of the FBI is on the scene immediately. Pendergast figures largely in most of the Preston & Child novels. He is a supremely eccentric, funereally attired, lethally trained, forensic expert who often freelances cases to which the FBI doesn't actually assign him. This particular novel pits him against a man who may have cheated death for 150 years, by making a substance out of spinal fluid from LIVING SUBJECTS. This book is superb, not only from a suspense standpoint, but also from a historical/scientific one. All of the Preston & Child books are great as a crash course in natural history, and the politics of museums and curators in general. With this one, I had my dictionary near at hand, and used Wikipedia quite a bit. I love it when a good book is so interesting that it FORCES one to learn!!!

4. "Fear Nothing" - Dean Koontz

This book is interesting from the point of view of the protagonist, Christopher Snow, who has a rare genetic disorder called XP (xeroderma pigmentosum)

that renders the day time very deadly indeed. Only being able to venture out safely at night, he discovers that his little town of 20,000 or so on the central coast of California is indeed both bizarre, and terribly dangerous. Frankly, this book is a bit of a letdown, both because it's a wee bit pretentious, being written in the first person (which only works in hard nosed crime novels (Elmore Leonard comes to mind), or masterpieces, neither of which this book is.) The other letdown is that the plot ends up being the standard Dean Koontz "secret government project gone horribly wrong" type deal. But now that I've read the first book in the series, I will of course, read the other two.

At the moment, I'm reading yet ANOTHER Preston & Child book, called "Still Life with Crows", again with Agent Pendergast, this time on vacation. In Kansas. His idea of a relaxing vacation is unofficially investigating a serial murderer that may or may not be the vengeful ghost of a man who was massacred by vengeful Sioux spirit warriors at the end of the Civil War. Lots of ritually mutilated bodies in corn fields populate this novel. Pendergast is at his wicked funniest here. Kinda reminiscent of the agent played by Kyle McGlaughlin in Twin Peaks in how he both adores and mocks small town America in the same breath.
posted by:
  • I have just made it thru Agent Pendergast and COC (Cabinet of Curiosities), Still Life with Crows and I have Brimstone next with the trilogy to follow.

    Question: who played Agent Pendergast in the Hollywood version of Relic? Was it the Sizemore guy. If so I think this character still has a life on the big screen.

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