Friday, April 03, 2009
Winter Games by John Lacombe
(AuthorHouse / 1-434-36475-5 / 978-1-434-36475-3 / April 2008 / 336 pages / $16.99 / $15.29 Amazon)
Reviewed by Dr. Al Past for PODBRAM
Tim Sutton, 24-year-old owner of a comic book store in a small New Hampshire town, is the central thread in this thriller by first-time novelist John Lacombe. Tim has an older brother, Eric, a brilliant misfit, who has disappeared years before. When an odd, encrypted plea for rescue, seemingly from Eric, appears at Tim's store, it launches Tim on a strange odyssey across the United States, to China, and finally to North Korea, of all places.
Tim is a normal person, but worked into the narrative with him are an assortment of CIA and FBI agents, Army Rangers, drug kingpins, and two almost mythologically adept super-warriors, the kind who can render themselves invisible, are immune to fatigue and environment, and are unexcelled in the use of every weapon known to man, with a familiarity with cutting-edge technology thrown in at no extra charge. As an added plus, the American agent of lethality is a smallish woman with red hair.
The story, at first a basic missing person case, eventually thickens with the agendas of the other characters: interagency rivalries, super-agent vs. super-agent, and the intrigues of the various national entities. This is satisfying. This type of thriller lives on complications and duplicity. The conclusion is not quite the expected one, but satisfying nonetheless. The text is smoothly edited and reads easily. I had a few issues with style, however. The characters' names were used too frequently (eight times in fourteen lines, in one sample, and twenty times on two pages, for example), some of the flashbacks could have been integrated more smoothly, and some of the characters did way more blabbing to other characters than they realistically would have done. CIA agents, for instance, are famously close-mouthed, but in this story they explained on and on to non-agents out of narrative necessity.
I think we can write these off to first-time novelist rough edges. Most readers of thrillers are not professors of literature. A lover of the genre would have a good time with this book.
See Also: More About John Lacombe
The AuthorHouse Winter Games Page