Monday, February 9, 2009
"Envy The Night" Great fun!
Fans of Stephen Hunter are sure to think that they've died and gone to heaven when they read this captivating book.
It is as if Hunter's character Bob Lee Swagger has returned to provide one more adventure.
In Hunter's work, Swagger is a decorated former Marine Corps sniper who fought in Vietnam. He is living in the legend of his father, former Arkansas State Trooper Earl Lee Swagger.
In "Envy The Night" Frank Temple III is following his warrior family tradition. Frank Temple fought on DDay and continued in the military, decorated posthumously for his service in Korea.
Frank II followed his father's example in Vietnam in Special Ops and later as a U.S. Marshall. In his career he worked as an exterminator of the extremely evil criminals who escaped into society to continue their crimes.
Through the years, Frank II is handled by Devin Masterson who, we are told, gave up Frank to the authorities, rather than going to prison, when their activities are discovered.
As this novel opens, Masterson has escaped from the hospital after someone tried to kill him in prison.
Frank III is summoned to his father's cabin by Ezra Ballard, a long time friend and military associate of Frank II's. After Frank II's death, Ezra has been looking after his father's cabin.
Young Frank is on route to the cabin and is involved in an auto accident. Although it is clearly his fault, the other driver insists on paying for damages and pleads not to involve authorities.
When the cars are towed to Nora Stafford's garage, her mechanic finds a tracking device hidden in the other driver's car.
Nora is in her office when one of the men who was tracking the car arrives and demands to know where the driver went. As she is being manhandled by this thug, Frank arrives. Frank remembers the lessons his father taught about self defense and beats up the attacker.
However when the police arrive to arrest the attacker, he escapes.
The author as written a true page turner and the reader pulls for young Frank from the start. The psychological impact of him viewing his father as a hero and then discovering his hidden side is well developed. As the tension revolving around the possibility of Frank turning into another killer or being able to rise above it mounts, the reader is gripped and can't wait to see the outcome.
When Masterson arrives at the lake, his wife, Renee and the other car driver, Vaughn are there. How Masterson seeks to find his wife and see revenge on Vaughn is central to the drama of the novel.
Not only is the cottage important, but the lake itself represents purity and cleansing. Its restoration abilities helped Ezra maintain his sanity after returning from Vietnam and at the end of the novel, I feel the lake provides the ability for certain characters to avoid their fate.
Young Frank's attempt to stop Masterson with Ezra's help is at the other end of the drama and Frank's growing attachment for Nora is a secondary story.
Excellent novel, well deserving praise as one of the best mystery novels of 2008, don't miss this one!