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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review - Marks of Cain

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Author: Tom Knox

Copyright: May 6, 2010 (Viking Adult); 448 pgs.

Series: Stand alone

Sensuality: explicit language, sex scenes, and graphic violence

Mystery sub-genre: Thriller

Main Character: Attorney David Martinez and Journalist Simon Quinn

Setting: Current day England, Spain, France, Africa, Germany

Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review

Write up from Publisher's Review:
"Two strangers, American David Martinez and Englishman Simon Quinn, become involved in two apparently unconnected strands of what's revealed as one unified conspiracy in Knox's problematic second thriller, which...casts recent human evolution in an unorthodox light. At the urging of his late grandfather, Martinez sets out to learn his family's true history, while Quinn looks into a series of brutal murders involving [elderly wealthy] victims connected to the Basque regions of Spain and France. Both men find answers in the tumultuous history of the Pyrenees and Namibia, answers with implications so terrible that the Catholic Church is willing to conspire with a murderous Basque terrorist to conceal them. Repeated violent confrontations with supposedly deadly assassins somehow never quite result in the protagonists' deaths.  Tom Knox supplies a rational basis for the Nazi genocide that may offend some readers."

I felt that this summary was far more succinct than anything I can come up with.  I will be honest, this was a tough book for me.  I like thrillers - but I don't like a lot of graphic violence etc.  It was also difficult to understand what the book was generally about until about half way through.  I wish I had read that summary before starting this novel, it would have helped me from feeling in the dark until well into this long story.

Although every book has us as readers suspend our natural skepticism and disbelief, I found that hard to maintain a good number of times.  Firstly David Martinez is facing unavoidable death so many times I lost count - even being burned alive, but still manages to miraculously escape time and again.  The downright gross factor was very high with scenes like sludging through the liquid of decomposed bodies.  I found the writing style difficult at times, perhaps the author's being British with a different cultural basis contributed to that (wild guess there).
And...I had an older brother.  We were rather a happy family... At first... Then at eighteen I went off to university and while I was there I got this frantic phone call from my mother.  She said,  your brohter Tim has just lost it.  I asked her what she meant and she said,  he's just lost it.  And it was true.  He'd suddenly come home from university ...

My parents realized my brother had a pretty serious problem - and they took him to a doctor, and they prescribed Tim the usual drugs.  The wretched little pills.  Antipsychotics.  And they worked for a while...But one night when I was home for Christmas I heard this muttering noise and...and it was this voice....And I lay there wondering what to do.  But then I heard this terrible scream and I rushed from my bedroom and my brother was in..."  He closed and opened his eyes.  "My brother was there in my mother's bedroom and they were alone because my father was away...and...and my brother was attacking her, hacking at my mother, with a machette.  A big knife.  A machete.  (I am stopping here for it gets bloody.)
At times I wanted to know why these wealthy elderly people had been killed and how it all fit together, but before long I just wanted to finish the book and read something happy.  This is a very dark and depressing book overall.  Characterization is a mixed bag, David Martinez is rather an insecure loner and Simon is single minded former alcoholic, but otherwise I couldn't really decribe them.  I think an obvious setup in the book is Simon's psychotic brother who is in an asylum for murdering their mother clearly was going to be part of the plot and the mental illness somehow figured in too.  But that was never utilized and I don't know why Simon had a psychotic murderous brother.

If you tend to like Thrillers that are grittier, you don't mind violence or dark stories this book may be for you.  Me personally, I think I need a nice cozy mystery!!

To lighten things up - here is a little something extra from a wedding reception:

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Unknown said...

Hi Ariel! Just wanted to let you know you have an award waiting for you here.

Have a great weekend! :-)


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