Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: The Survivor by Sean Slater

For the briefest of moments, there was only silence. No gun fire. No explosions. No screaming. Just nothing. And everything felt oddly surreal. Previous nightmare incidents flooded him - the Active Shooter situations everyone had seen on their TV screens a million times:

Dunblane.
Virginia Tech.
Columbine.
But St. Patrick's High?



I love Cozies. Murders yes, but little violence, bloodshed, or brutality; and usually the ends tie up neatly. But I do realise that killings are often not like that. Not everything is neat and tidy and the stink of blood and the depth of depravity can make one shudder.

Sean Slater's The Survivor takes a look at what has, of late, become common-place: Gunmen going on a shooting spree.

Slater's Homicide Detective, Jacob striker, has but returned to work after a six-month lay-off when his world erupts. It begins with a call from the principal of the school which his daughter attends. Aware of the growing chasm between his daughter, Courtney, and himself, after his wife's death, Striker makes his wary way to the school along with his partner Felicia. Even as they are talking to the principal, the school suddenly becomes an inferno as three men open fire on the hapless students. Striker manages to take down two of the gunmen but one gets away.

The rest of the book deals with the cat-and-mouse game played between Striker and the Killer. And there is very little for Striker to go on. The gunman before fleeing had obliterated his partner's face. The third gunman might have been an innocent student of the school whom Striker shot dead by mistake! If this is not nightmarish enough, Deputy Chief Laroche is creating problems for Striker. And then there is the million-dollar question: What is the connection between an Ancient Secret Society and the students at St. Patrick's High?

Sean Slater, himself in the Canadian Police force, handles the police-procedural well. Right from forensics to computer graphics to the third-degree, we are told how painstakingly, the police force solves a crime. There is a lot of sweat and hardwork. Grey cells have to be complimented by a lot of running around and twisting of arms!

What I liked best about the book was the character of Felicia. As a woman cop in a male-dominated field, she has to put up with a lot, including sexual innuendos and comments from her own colleagues. On top of that, Striker never lets her forget that he is the boss.

What I did not like about the book was the constant confrontation between Striker and Laroche. Just as the tension would build up, there would be this face off between Striker and Laroche, and everything would go kaput. A major irritant, it just seemed like a ploy to lengthen the novel. Also the Khmer Rouge angle to the story was a little overdone. And why should anyone with a Chinese cast of features, be referred  to as Asians? Asia comprises of many countries and not all Asians look alike.

These irritants aside, the book is a taut thriller which will keep you fairly glued. Also the cover with a bullet-hole for the O is eye-catching and much better than the earlier cover with a man wearing a hockey mask.

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First Line: Dying is easy; living is the hard part.

Title: The Survivor

Author: Sean Slater

Publication Details: London: Simon and Schuster, 2011

First Published: 2011

Pages: 513

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The book is available in bookstores and can also be ordered on the Net. I received this from the publishers for having participated in the Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge, hosted by BookChickCity.

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Submitted for the following challenges:

Off the Shelf

Mystery and Suspense

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