If Life After Dane were a TV show, it would be some kind of combo, mini-series, spin-off of Criminal Minds and The Dead Files. Ella has spent months t...moreIf Life After Dane were a TV show, it would be some kind of combo, mini-series, spin-off of Criminal Minds and The Dead Files. Ella has spent months travelling the country to attend the trials, in numerous jurisdictions, of her estranged son, Dane, aka the Rest Stop Dentist. She's never stopped loving him, even after discovering what he'd been doing in the years since he left home. When she returns to her life-long home in Colorado after witnessing Dane's execution, at the hands of the state of Arkansas, she has to face the disapproving looks of everyone who knows what he's been up to. Those looks are quickly forgotten when Dane begins appearing to Ella in decidedly unsettling ways. Things get even more bizarre when Sven Godel, a journalist trying to make his career on the Rest Stop Dentist, show's up with a video of his final interview with Dane. Everything she thought she knew changes drastically when, despite her absolute disgust with Sven, Ella watches the video. Dane's visitations become more terrifying and much more violent, causing Ella to embark on a new cross-country journey in hopes of finally putting Dane and the Rest Stop Dentist to rest.
This book contains several graphically violent scenes and is not suitable for all readers. If you're at all squeamish about such violence, delve into this book at your own risk.
In addition to being a horror story, Life After Dane takes a considered look at who's responsible for "creating" serial killers. It does so from the perspective of society, family members, and the serial killer himself. Some of those perspectives may surprise and shock the reader.
The characters are well-developed throughout, and the portrayal of their descent into terror on their exposure to Dane's ghost is excellent. Because it's narrated by Ella, her character and veracity are critical to the story. As it progresses, she becomes, more and more, an unreliable narrator. You're never quite sure if Ella's really being haunted by Dane or if he's just a manifestation of her deteriorating mental state. Even the things that happen to others - things she attributes to Dane, since she's telling the story - could be her mind's way of dealing with what she's done herself. The twist at the end may have you re-reading the whole book to find what you know you must have missed the first time through. You probably didn't miss anything. Lorn's just that good at springing surprises.
Life After Dane is a quick read - mostly because it's hard to put down, once you get started - but also for its brevity and because Lorn's prose flows so readily across the page. It's also a must-read for anyone who's into serial killers or who just enjoys a good evil-ghost story. (less)
In the not-too-distant future, True Ailey is on the backside of his career as a journalist. Corporations are the new Mafia – controlling society throu...moreIn the not-too-distant future, True Ailey is on the backside of his career as a journalist. Corporations are the new Mafia – controlling society through thugs and the technology embedded in everything and everyone. Virtual reality is the drug of choice – as addictive and debilitating as heroin. Information is the most valuable currency. Much of the world has fragmented into small republics where ethnic and cultural wars are part of everyone’s daily life. Exiled to one of these hellholes by his network, True is trying to hold his life together. When his friend is assassinated, he sets out to determine who’s behind the attack and for what purpose. His digging puts almost everyone he knows in danger the closer he comes to exposing the ultimate cover-up.
A little over half of Virtually True is written in third person, present tense. The remainder, mixed throughout, is third person, past tense. This makes for a very bumpy read – especially when it randomly jumps from past to present tense. Feels like talking to some pretentious jerk who always refers to himself in the third person. All this is very distracting from a plot that’s not all that easy to follow in the first place. The concept of the story is interesting, but it’s developed in such a choppy manner that it’s difficult to maintain interest. Because the storyline frequently jumps from reality to virtual reality, it’s also difficult to know what’s true of any character, and thus almost impossible to muster empathy for any of them, one way or the other.
If you’re seriously into technology and virtual reality, Virtually True may provide some interesting thought experiments. If you’re not, it could prove tedious and frustrating. (less)
The Trojan Horse Conspiracy is part speculative-fiction history lesson and part political/techno thriller, ala Tom Clancy. The book begins with a reha...moreThe Trojan Horse Conspiracy is part speculative-fiction history lesson and part political/techno thriller, ala Tom Clancy. The book begins with a rehash of U. S. history, from the assassination of JFK to the present, spun out against the fictional backdrop of a Sino/Soviet conspiracy and the career path of former Navy SEAL and current FBI counter-intelligence expert, Brad Tisdale. While trying to ferret out moles in America’s intelligence and security agencies, Tisdale snags threads of the conspiracy and weaves them into the pattern of a plot that could leave the U.S. on the losing end of a lethal confrontation with China and North Korea.
Based on recent experience, I’m of the opinion that, when lawyers write fiction, it still reads like a legal brief. Nelson is no exception. Once you get used to the style though, the story is compelling. The historical discourse is interesting and the fictional interaction of Soviet and Chinese leaders gives it an interesting spin. The characters have enough depth for the reader to care what happens to them – good or bad. The speculation Nelson presents, while unlikely, is plausible enough to engage the open mind and raise at least a few questions. When the narrative reaches the present, the story becomes completely speculative and much more Clancyesque. Tisdale is the standard hero of political thrillers; the flawed, but sincere, patriot who willingly risks life and limb for the preservation of his country.
If you enjoy Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, or Alex Berenson, you’ll probably like The Trojan Horse Conspiracy, but be warned; the zealously liberal, will be more likely to fling the book across the room in anger than to finish it. (less)