Thursday, 7 June 2012
"Immortal," 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.
Covenant"). I've not been feeling too well recently, so I decided to treat myself to a relaxing day of bed, book and coffee/tea over the bank holiday. I haven't had the opportunity to do this for a while, so this was a luxury. "Immortal" is the book I chose to read on my duvet day.
"Immortal" begins with Ethan Warner and Nicola Lopez - characters who were introduced in Crawford's earlier novel - working together as bail bondsmen and barely making enough money to survive. They are approached by Doug Jenkins, of the Defense Intelligence Agency, to look into a shooting in New Mexico. The circumstances of the shooting are very strange - the victim appears to be very old and has an injury that carbon dating reveals happened about 140 years previously - and subsequently both the body and the investigating coroner have gone missing. Before you can say the words "global conspiracy," they are thrown into a dangerous adventure.
I felt that "Covenant" ended with a few threads left unresolved, which I expected to be picked up again as an arc between novels. "Immortal" surprised me rather by not doing this: instead of following on from the aliens of the previous novel, Crawford's plot centres on humanity's quest for immortality (hence the title) or, at the very least, increased longevity. I only did science to GCSE level and that was quite a while ago so, to me at least, the science bits are on the plausible edge of bonkers. It also helps that his plot is couched in recognisable social and environmental concerns that are the fodder of our everyday news, which grounds the science in a world that is familiar.
This is just the way my mind works, but I was unable to take it seriously when Ethan says partway through the novel "The greatest weapon we have right now is surprise" because I started thinking of one of my favourite Monty Python sketches ("NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again."). I think that reaction might be fairly unique to me. If anyone is interested, my other favourite Monty Python sketch is The Fish Slapping Dance.
Sorry, I might have just gone off on a bit of a tangent. It only took me a day to read this book, and that is probably the best way to read Dean Crawford's Ethan Warner books; quickly, to keep the action at a rollicking pace. Crawford's villain is memorably repellent in his physical decrepitude and moral turpitude, Ethan makes a rugged hero, and Lopez is a strong heroine with an interesting rebellious streak. It's a series that I will continue to read - assuming that Crawford writes more about these Ethan and Lopez, as I think there is still a lot more to explore in their characters and relationship - and I hope that he will return to some of the ideas and themes that I felt were left open-ended in "Covenant."
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a review copy of this novel.