Friday, 22 July 2011

Acts of Nature

This is the 5th book featuring Max Freeman. An ex Philadelphia cop who has retired to a remote cabin in the Florida Everglades. Over the last 4 books Max has been getting his life back together after a fateful night when he shot a 12 year old kid at a convenience store hold-up and was badly injured himself. No longer on the force, he spends his days in solitude at his cabin or occasionally doing investigative work for his best friend Billy Manchester.
In this one Max is taking some time out to try to rescue his relationship with local cop Sherry Richards by spending some quality alone time with her out at his cabin. Unfortunately there's a storm coming. A Hurricane rips through the Glades, badly injuring one of the pair. Throw in a gang of opportunistic house-breaking Gladesmen, a couple of ex-military hired guns and an ornery alligator named Wally and you know this is going to all end in blood. By this time I've realised that this one has gone off track. No slow burning mystery with Max grinding away at the rough edges this time. Now I don't mind long running series breaking the formula, but this one just had set-up written all over it. Jonathon King writes great confrontation scenes it has to be said and Max v. the Gladesmen is as sparky as you would expect. I'm not keen on the split point of view though, establishing all the different characters so thoroughly could be described as padding. Contrary to the cover blurb, nobody is being stalked by persons unknown, as everyone's motivations are comprehensively explored with no stalking being part of the agenda. Ok, I can't speak for Wally. The plot is what it is: people coming together in the wrong place at the wrong time - a storm of consequences, you might say. It all being said, King's writing is good, going down like the first cold beer on a hot afternoon and I always enjoy Max's company. King's description of the Glades is, as ever, very good, mindful of the environmental issues and the conflicting forces of the natural world and the nature of mankind. It's just a shame the plot was so thin, considering how much the events in this one are going to impact on the series.

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