This is Neil McMahon's fourth thriller starring ER physician Dr
Carroll Monks (see sidebar for series order). Poor old Monks
is just putting his feet up for the evening when a woman comes
knocking at the door saying her car's got a flat. Being a true
gent he doesn't lend her his phone to call the breakdown truck,
instead he sets off to fix the flat himself, and is promptly
abducted by his own long estranged son, Glenn. He's taken to a
remote community led by a charismatic counter-cultural sociopath
known as Freeboot who's obsessed with the supposed hidden messages
buried within old Beatles lyrics and the disintegration of workers'
rights, the escalating differential between the haves and the
have-nots, and the slap-on-the-wrist "justice" doled out in cases of
billion-dollar corporate malfeasance.
Monks soon discovers that he has been abducted because Freeboot's four-year-old son is critically ill -- a conundrum for Freeboot, whose distrust of institutional America (hospitals included) borders on the psychotic. Monks can see immediately that the boy's condition is acute and that only immediate hospitalization will save him. When his pleas fall on deaf ears he has no choice but to make a daring escape with the boy. This brings down the wrath of the madman on himself and his family, and culminates in a diabolically crafted "revolution" -- a recreation of Hitchcock's The Birds, but with human predators, unleashed on the town of Bodega Bay, California.
Publishers Weekly (giving it a starred review) says 'McMahon pulls off the virtually impossible: he creates a lunatic terrorist adversary so believable that he quickly becomes touchingly real. Booklist says 'the quick-witted Monks is one of mystery fiction's more original series leads, and this new novel shows that he is a long way away from outstaying his welcome. Bring on the next one!'
This review is from the January 4, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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