“The Third Gate” by Lincoln Child


The Third GateThe Third Gate by Lincoln Child

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lincoln Child is a favorite writer of mine, and I have spent nearly a decade of reading well-constructed and thought out novels by this talented artist. When I first read his collaborative novels, “Riptide” and “Cabinet of Curiosities,” it was a truly magical experience that I can still recount vividly.

Over the years, Lincoln Child and his writing partner, Douglas Preston, have written a series of joint novels dubbed the ‘Pendergast Novels,’ as well each crafting several solo novels on their own accord. Generally speaking, Douglas Preston’s plots focus more heavily upon history and archaeology, while Child’s endeavors can be best described as ‘Technological Thrillers.’ Together they seamlessly blend these two wonderful genres to create a unique and riveting experience that indubitably leaves the reader imploring for more.

“The Third Gate” is Lincoln Child’s fifth solo novel, and is essentially a self-contained tale with no immediate sequels or prequels. So, if you want to dive into something that is a not precursor to a long-running series then this would be a perfect novel to read on cool summer’s eve.

Child takes the age-old mummy curse paradigm and re-imagines it for contemporary audiences by wrapping up present day technologies, a bit of the paranormal, and a splash of mummy’s curse for flavor. The resulting cocktail follows Jeremy Logan, an Enigmalogist, as he begins his employment for the mysterious, but highly successful explorer, Porter Stone. Along with a group of qualified technicians, scientists, archaeologists, and historians, they travel to an area found in South Sedan ominously titled, the Sudd. The Sudd is not a fictitious place, and (unbeknownst to me at the time) is the largest swamp in the world; it continues to grow in size every year due to its proximity to the White Nile. The core of Child’s plot focuses upon the final resting place of Narmer, the first king of unified Egypt. Stone has managed to locate his tomb by piecing together scraps of information scattered across the globe, but unfortunately it resides in one of the world’s most inhospitable corners, the Sudd. Towards the beginning of the tomb’s excavation a tablet is discovered depicting a particularly nasty mummy’s curse. At first glance, nothing is thought of it, but as mysterious circumstances start presenting themselves Stone is forced to bring someone onboard with an expertise in the odd, hence the inclusion of Jeremy Logan.

The premise grips you the moment you begin the novel, and throws you into the deep end with surprising results. The introductory chapter is phenomenally written; it is one the best beginnings that I have ever encountered in mainstream fiction. It is poignant and emotionally gripping, which immediately invests the reader in the characters and subsequently the plot.

However, the rest of the novel falls short until at glimmer presents itself at the very end. This is terribly disappointing considering the stellar introduction. Most the interesting plot points are divulged to Logan as he is being recruited to work on site for the famed archaeologist, Porter Stone, but once he arrives at their base of operations (deep within the Sudd) the narrative begins to lag. A bulk of the novel is spent following Logan as he aimlessly wanders about asking questions to anyone who will care to listen. Most of his questions go unanswered and it is not till the end of the book that it begins to pick up the pace once again.

Sadly, many of the characters are flat and shallow, and the few that are more rounded are not fleshed out properly leaving more loose ends then necessary. Much of Logan’s back-story is egregiously hinted at but never divulged in detail to the reader. It seems interesting and as if it would pertain to the plot, but by the end all but a few scraps of information are provided. Stone is one of the few characters (besides the protagonist) that has more than a flat edge about him; he plays the classic successful entrepreneur to a ‘T,’ and provides much of the driving force to the overall project, and thus the plot. Many of the other characters have interesting qualities, but they tend to be conflicting or underdeveloped.

The ending adequately wraps up the core narrative, but feels very rushed and sudden. It feels like 50-or-so pages are missing from the novel, and I that I was in fact reading a poorly abridged version. The lingering notions sprinkled in the closing paragraphs that are supposed to leave the reader feeling profoundly affected seem instead to come out of left field, ultimately undercutting the entire rhythm of the novel.

Oddly enough, I also thought I was reading a Douglas Preston book for the first hundred pages before realizing that Lincoln Child was attempting to write historical fiction, instead of his usual techno savvy novels. It is like Lincoln Child tried to copy his writing partner’s style, which resulted in a sloppy, mediocre novel that falls flat compared to his prior work. Child’s solo works include sentient computers, evil amusement parks, and alien weapon deposits, so to suddenly shift gears and write a historical thriller seems counterintuitive to his style.

I rate “The Third Gate” three-and-a-half stars out of five. Lincoln Child is far better than his latest work, and I would highly recommend reading “Utopia” and/or “Terminal Freeze” before cracking into the “The Third Gate.”

(Source: Review: The Third Gate by Lincoln Child)

View all my reviews

Advertisements

“The Wizard and the Glass” by Stephen King


Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4)Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Last month, Stephen King released an eighth Dark Tower novel by the name of “The Wind Through the Keyhole.” I took this as a personal challenge, and began fervently trying to finish King’s “Wizard and the Glass,” because “The Wind Through the Keyhole” nestles firmly between the fourth and fifth Dark Tower novels.

For the past eight years I have attempted to read “The Wizard and the Glass” to little to no avail. I love Stephen King and I love his work. I remember reading the “Gunslinger” for the first time and being riveted and quickly marked as a bibliophile. I knew after reading it cover-to-cover (in the span of a couple hours) that I would forever read, and that literature would always be a close friend. However, even though the “Gunslinger” is rightfully King’s magnum opus, “The Wizard and the Glass” (which resides in the same series) woefully deviates from Roland’s tale to tell even older tale.

It starts slow and for me “The Wizard and the Glass” was hard to concentrate on because I was being constantly reminded of the much more interesting story that lay in the immediate background. However, I finally finished it and the tale was masterful as always. About halfway through the novel the sidetracked story begins to get interesting in its own right, but like all great King story it ends in sadness and to quote my own thoughts on “11/22/63”:

“Damn it Stephen King! You’re so brilliant, but I hate you!”

The novel wraps up by diving into Roland’s psyche, syncing a great Wizard of Oz reference to Stephen King’s famous novel “The Stand,” and shoring up some loose plot points divulged in the prior three novels.

“The Wizard and the Glass” is a good novel in its own right, but definitely not my favorite of King’s work or the best of the Dark Tower saga. Ironically enough, I am desperately looking forward to cracking into his newest foray into the land Oz though, so stayed tuned for my review on King’s “A Wind Through the Keyhole.”

View all my reviews

“The Race” by Clive Cussler


The RaceThe Race by Clive Cussler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clive Cussler is most known for his action-adventure novels, especially those starring his reoccurring character, Dirk Pitt. However, several years back Cussler released his first Isaac Bell novel titled, “The Chase.” Isaac Bell is the lead private detective in the fictional Van Dorn Detective Agency. He is quick-witted, brave, intuitive, tall, blonde-hair, a crack shot, and everything else Ian Fleming would of thought while constructing James Bond.

The Isaac Bell novels take place in the late 19th/early 20th centuries and are always centered on a particularly cunning villain that Isaac Bell has to tangle with throughout the tale. The narrative usually flips back and forth between the two leads, and even though the antagonist essentially embodies evil Cussler manages to round them out making them quite interesting to read about. And, truth be told, Isaac does not always get the better of the villains, which in the end makes for a great read.

In “The Race” Cussler focus on the birth of the airplane. In a story that pans the continent during the height of a newspaper endorsed monoplane/biplane race Isaac Bell must protect the race’s underdog from her murderous brute of a husband, Harry Frost, while simultaneously trying to figure out who is behind the sabotage of the other participants planes.

The book is a fun romp through early 20th century America, while focusing on the classic ‘whodunit’ recipe. The atmosphere can be described as whimsical and thus creates a quick, enjoyable read. I don’t know of too many fictional pre-WWI novels and because this era interests me so greatly I am pleased that Cussler has filled in the void, some what, and produced a fun novel that will interest just about anyone who likes solid action-adventure novels.

View all my reviews

“Instinct” by Jeremy Robinson


Jeremy Robinson’s “Instinct”

Read 3.10.2011

“Instinct,” as mentioned in other reviews, is the second Chess Team Adventure, or Jack Sigler, novel. All-in-all, I have been fairly impressed with the Chess Team Adventures. They are always quick-paced and action oriented. More often than not I finish the book without even realizing how much time has passed. The prose is fluid, and the characters are wonderful and distinct.

“Instinct” follows the Chess Team and a CDC scientist as they transverse the treacherous jungles of Vietnam in search for a cure that essentially stops the heart of its victims causing instantaneous death. Somewhere along the line the virus becomes weaponized and is implemented against the President of the United States. The virus is traced back to a remote section of Vietnam, hence the Chess Team’s incursion to discover a cure at the virus’ origin.

The story is great and packs a punch as the Chess Team battles the Vietnamese Death Volunteers and a race of beings that are essentially modern day Neanderthals. The Death Volunteers pose the initial threat, however, towards the end of the novel it is the Neanderthals that take the focus and keep the plot moving.

I really enjoy Jeremy Robinson’s prose, and I have read quite a few of his novels. Personally, I enjoyed the first Chess Team Adventure (“Pulse”) more so than this one. There seemed to be too much going at times and some of the more interesting aspects of the novel (e.g. the history of the Neanderthals, Mount Meru, etc.) seemed to be too quickly wrapped up and brushed aside, which was unfortunate. I would have liked to see more emphasis on the Neanderthals and their ties to humanity, but to play my own Devil’s Advocate “Instinct” is not dubbed a Historical Thriller so it makes sense not to focus solely on the history aspect of the novel.

Overall, if you like faced paced, action novels that focus on one of the world’s most elite military group and their bonds then definitely pick up Jeremy Robinson’s “Instinct”–you won’t be disappointed.

(Originally published at Goodreads (dot) com)

“Walking Dead, Vol. 12: Life Among Them” and “Walking Dead, Vol. 13: Too Far Gone”


Robert Kirkman‘s “Walking Dead, Vol. 12: Life Among Them” and “Walking Dead, Vol. 13: Too Far Gone”

Read 3.1.2012

Robert Kirkman’s “Walking Dead” is an amazing series by Image Comics that blends traditional horror elements with realistic situations and applicable philosophies.  The series follows Rick Grimes and specifically centers on his groups humanity (or lack thereof).  These particular volumes focus on the Rick’s group adjusting to a semi-normal lifestyle after being welcomed by an even larger group who takes them inside their home–a walled off portion of Washington D.C. designed to be used by government officials during an apocalyptic event.  ”Walking Dead” is a masterful experience, presented in beautiful high gloss, black and white art panels.