Book Review 15: Silent Victor by J. Daniel Sawyer

Title: Silent Victor
Author: J. Daniel Sawyer
Publisher: AWP Mystery
Release Date: 2011
Available Formats: ebook only

Once again, Dan Sawyer has presented us with a Clarke Lantham story. This one, if you can’t tell from the cover art, is all about aliens. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Does this new story hit like a .45 between the eyes, or does it pack the power of a squib?

On to the review.

Synopsis: The California Academy of Sciences, a bastion of integrity in scientific public relations, has agreed to play host to one of the most valuable travelling exhibits in the world: a Mars rock with microbial alien life. But the attention it’s drawing isn’t just international, it’s interstellar. When a commando team of gray aliens steals the rock and abducts a security guard, in full view of the cameras, the head of the security contractor has only one place to turn: Clarke Lantham Investigations.

Clarke Lantham already turned down an alien-related job earlier in the week, and has had his fill of kooks, cranks, and crooks of all kinds. Unfortunately, with an old client suing him, a employee to pay for, and a new ward chewing through his finances, he needs the paycheck. This time, though, he’s not the only one looking for a missing person: the FBI, Lloyd’s of London, and the Chinese Ministry of State Security are all breathing down his neck.

From the dark underbelly of the Tongs slave trade to the shark-infested waters of Bolinas Bay to the skies far above the concerns of mere mortals, Lantham races against spies, assassins, and conspiracy theorists to find the missing man–and the treasure that went with him–before the theft becomes a diplomatic incident between the world’s most fearsome superpowers and the alien overlords they allegedly support.

When the field gets that crowded, someone’s bound to get hurt. But even that might be okay for Lantham…if he didn’t have to sleep on the couch. (Stolen from author’s site)

Setting: One of the things I love about Dan Sawyer’s Lantham books is that, for the most part, they take place in locales that the author is obviously familiar with. This holds true with Silent Victor as well. Clarke travels all around the bay area doing what Clarke does best. The nice thing about an author writing about places they know about is that those places come alive on the page.

Plot: Seriously, have you ever read a Dan Sawyer story? If you have, have you tried to explain the plot of one of that story in a paragraph or two? This is exactly the position I’m in now. The plot of Silent Victor isn’t anymore straightforward than any of Dan’s other books, but I’ll do my best. Clarke Lantham is trying to find out whether Victor has been abducted by aliens or whether he has been the victim of foul play of a more human nature. Various other characters become involved and create situations that must be solved along the way. Sorry, that is about the best I can do.

Characters: As always, Dan Sawyer excels at characterization. In this volume, we are allowed to see some of the characters that float along the periphery of Clarke’s life take on a life of their own. Rachel and Nya become much more integral to the story, and by developing them to a greater extent, we also learn much more about Clarke. I’ve always enjoyed Clarke’s witty/sarcastic/sardonic inner voice, but in Silent Victor that voice can no longer be classified as inner. The best thing about this, however, is that Rachel keeps up.

Odin’s recommendation: It took me longer to read Silent Victor than I would have preferred. Life and all that. However, it is a story that deserves to be read. It is a story that is worth paying a hardback price for a ebook delivery (and no, it DOESN’T cost as much as a hardback). With each Clarke Lantham book, Mr. Sawyer solidifies his standing with those of us that grew up watching old movies with heroes like Sam Spade. Clarke Lantham is a character Bogart himself would rise from the grave to play if given the chance (forget that he would be completely miscast). If you haven’t read any of Mr. Sawyer’s Clarke Lantham stories, you need to buy them all. They get better with each one. This is a bit scary, because there are several more coming and I don’t see how Mr. Sawyer can keep up the trend. For my own greedy reasons, I hope he does.

Forget the .45, Dan targeted us with a freaking howitzer. Dude.

You may have noticed I usually don’t link to sites where you can purchase the books from in the reviews. However, if you look to the right, you’ll see a carousel of the books I’ve most recently reviewed. If you click on one of them it will take you to the Amazon page where that product is sold. I’ve done this for two reasons. One, Amazon may not be the only place the book is sold, but most authors are now using Amazon so I can reliably assume that the book is sold there. Secondly, any clicks you make from the carousel (and better yet, purchases) helps me as an Amazon affiliate. However, please, don’t worry about buying from Amazon if you prefer another vendor, just buy the books!

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