Sunday, 13 November 2011
"Covenant," by Dean Crawford
Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
This is a book that I was lucky enough to receive from Simon and Schuster as a review copy, and it is one that I was looking forward to reading. The novelists that Dean Crawford has been compared to in the novel's book blurb and press - James Rollins and Chris Kuzneski - are ones that I find entertaining and enjoyable.
Dean Crawford's hero is Ethan Warner, an ex-marine turned investigative journalist who lost his reason for living when his fiancee, Joanna, was abducted while in Gaza. Since that time, and following failed attempts to locate her, he has been reduced to a purposeless, alcohol-fuelled life. Ethan is brought in by the Defense Intelligence Agency due to his skill at finding missing people - excepting the one he really wants to find - to help Rachel Morgan locate her scientist daughter, Lucy, who has disappeared from the site of a remote and highly secretive dig in Israel. He is convinced to help Rachel by the promise of further investigation into his fiancee's disappearance.
The adventure that follows is part Indiana Jones, part Michael Crichton - complete with "Jurassic Park" incomprehensible (to me, anyway) science bits. The Michael Crichton comparison is made on the book cover, and this is an apt one. However, it also made me think of "The X-Files." The character of Ethan Warner is comparable to Dana Scully - initially a sceptic, becoming enlightened during the course of the narrative - while Rachel Morgan takes the Fox Mulder role. The discovery from Lucy's dig is - and I don't think this is a spoiler, as we learn this fairly early on - the skeletal remains of an alien humanoid, which also brings to mind the"X-Files" comparison. Dean Crawford obviously intends Ethan Warner to be a recurring character (my copy of the book also contains the first few chapters of his next book, "Elixir"), and some unresolved elements of the story make me suspect that the alien discovery will be an arc that will span books, much in the same way that the alien conspiracy extended across seasons of "The X-Files."
I've written before about what I call "breakfast books." A breakfast book is a book that you can read early in the morning, for entertainment value with a rollicking story, without your brain cells being unduly taxed. This is a good example of a breakfast book, with a couple of caveats: the science bits did tax my brain (and I don't have the scientific knowledge to know how theoretically plausible they are); and there are some slightly gruesome bits that you don't want to be reading while eating breakfast. This book had some interesting ideas about archeology and the foundations of civilisation - interesting in a von Daniken, "Fortean Times," to be taken with a kilo of salt kind of way - and I look forward to finding out where he takes these ideas in subsequent novels.