Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Silver Bear - Derek Haas


The Silver Bear
Derek Haas
Jove

Thriller

There’s an old reviewing chestnut – I’ve used variations more than once, myself – that says a good thriller ‘grabs you on the first page and won’t let go’ until some harrowing ending ‘leaves you breathless.’ I hope I haven’t used the ‘breathless’ bit. The thing is, THE SILVER BEAR is exactly that kind of book.

On the first page, we meet the main character. He has no name, but some call him Columbus. He narrates the entire book from first-person perspective. He kills people for money. Lots of people, lots of money. And he doesn’t feel bad or remorseful or regretful about it. He never falls to his knees, weeping and repenting a misspent existence. This is his skill set in life, and that’s fine with him. He dresses to blend into a crowd; never tries to draw any attention to himself. Reading about his efforts and preparations makes me think that if Michael Weston from “Burn Notice” had his conscience and humor and morals removed, he would be this man.

The first pages detail a meeting with a new client. More accurately, a new middleman. Clients are, for some reason, reluctant to meet with the killer they’re hiring. Maybe it’s self-preservation, on several levels. The job is to take place eight weeks later, to give the assassin time to do his own groundwork. The pay is good. The target is someone in the running to be the next President. This job is going to complicate the assassin’s life in ways he cannot even imagine.

The story is written in first-person, and in a fairly spare style. The story is fast-paced and fascinating. It’s a look at an assassination from the other side of the gun. If you can suspend your moral compass long enough to get on board with the main character, and it isn’t hard to do at all, you’re in for quite a ride. By the end of the book, I found myself caring what happens to this man who kills people for a living. That’s no small feat.

Rating: 8
March 2010
IBSN# 978-0-515-14763-6 (paperback)

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