Cammy Hunnicutt's Reviews > Tiger Paw

Tiger Paw by Charles A. Cornell
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Jun 02, 2012

it was amazing
Read in March, 2012 — I own a copy

Normally the words "FBI agent" and "serial killer" turn me off on a book immediately. Those lambs have already been silenced. But I was persuaded to take a look at this and got sucked right in.

OK, right off the top: this is a first novel self-published by an "indie author". So if you have prejudices about that, read this book and lose them. Take a look at the cover. Does it look amateur or sloppy? That's in keeping.

Charles Cornell is as good as the writers who have this kind of book in the storefronts, better than a lot of them. He takes you in hand and guides you through a story holds your interest and opens up some new kind of fun reading for mystery/thriller fans. And he doesn't try to rush you. One thing I really liked about Tiger Paw was the way he opens chapters far adjourned from the main plot and characters. The book starts out with a vivid description of a flashmob conflagration fanning out from "Occupy" demonstrations. Nothing to do with the main plot, but an irritant to the main characters and a very subtle thematic background, perhaps. We are suddenly dumped in the lap of a quiet, fussy Indian professor who keeps rattling on about peripheral subjects until you want to grab him and scream "Just tell him what's going on!" But it's adorable, and not cutting straight to the chase is what novels are about. As it turns out later, the old Hindu prof not only provides the first clue to tie in worldwide skullduggery and mayhem, he's a major player in attempting to defeat it.

Some might say there are clichés here. The "Tiger Paw" itself sounds like a Wildcat Willy play, but there's not thing ordinary about the way Cornell draws us in closer to the sinister subcontinental blood cult. And there is a computer hacking element. But is that "cliché" these days? Or just obligatory? Nobody thought the Dragon Tattoo chick was a cliché. Cornell takes us into Indian mythology, stock trading, finance, and several other areas with just enough authority to keep us around.

Another detour that turns out to be a main thoroughfare is Wall Street. But not from the 1% view, or pit players, or Occupiers: from day trader chat rooms. There are several strings of posts from cyber bulls and bears that ring true and funny. Maybe not quite as cool as William Gibson's in "Pattern Recognition" who is?

There are some gloss-overs in the plot, but I don't thing that's too abnormal. Most of the thriller movies I see have similar places where I want to jump up and say, "Wait, all the has to do is..." Can they really arrest somebody for insider trading when they are gloating about having all his internet posts, which show that he got the information off the open internet? I doubt FBI firings go much this one. But so what? It didn't hurt my enjoying the book.

And it's not a mystery. So nobody can go, "Wait, no fair, the killer wasn't one of the people sitting around the library". It's a thriller, and the killer is a cipher throughout. The only time I felt a little hustled along was at the end, when all the pieces started falling into place. But not as loudly and clankily as Harlan Coben, where everybody is somebody's grandpa, to name one. I'd say about typically.

You'll notice I haven't mentioned the plot. Deliberately, because I don't want to mess with something that is kind of fun watching unroll through it's little detours and quirks.

And I'm not calling this some amazing breakthrough in modern literature, or even in suspense novels.

What I'm saying is that it's fun read and if you like FBI/serial killer/international baddie plot intrigue books this is right down the barrel of what you want. I enjoyed it better than T. Jefferson Parker's latest. You won't be disappointed following Agent Forrester around tracking down the Tiger Paw.
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