In this guest post Duane Swierczynski reviews John Rector’s new thriller Already Gone, available on Kindle for $4.99.
Books are like houses.
Some houses, you can tell right away they’re about to collapse at any moment and you need to scramble out quick. Other houses may seem okay at first, but then you realize that maybe the ceiling’s too low, or there’s not enough natural light in the living room, or the floors creak too much. Finally there are some houses that are expertly crafted, both in terms of structural integrity and design. But the problem is, you’ve been inside dozens of houses just like it. Zzzzz.
Thank God there isn’t a literary zoning commission, because I have a feeling they’d be constantly red-flagging his ass.
Don’t get me wrong: Rector’s novels—which so far include The Cold Kiss, The Groveand now Already Gone—are structurally rock solid. But you can’t help but marvel at how much weight is supported by his lean, spare sentences. The whole thing should collapse—but doesn’t.
A few steps in, you may think you’ve been inside houses like these before… but then you take another few steps and think, Oh man, this place is much bigger inside than it seemed outside, and then a more steps and you’re screaming, Holy crap I can’t believe all of this stuff was under the floorboards!
You don’t find houses like these everyday.
Which is why I was super-thrilled to score an early copy of Already Gone at the most recent Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. I even, um, kinda (and I’m a little ashamed to admit this) snatched it out of my friend’s hands when she pulled it out of her convention swag bag. “You don’t mind if I swap you for this, do you? I promise, I’ll mail to you later…” What can I say? When I find houses/books like the ones Rector builds, I get a little ruthless.
While I don’t want to spoil Rector’s diabolical architecture, let’s step up onto the porch for a minute so you can see a bit of what you’re in for.
We open with a college professor, Jake Reese, who’s enduring a serious beating outside a college-town bar. (See? Already this is your kind of house.) Jake thinks to himself: okay this sucks, but I’ll get through it:
A few bruises, wallet gone, nothing I can’t walk away from.
Which is when Rector springs the first of many, many nasty surprises:
Then I see the bolt cutters.
The muggers proceed to forcibly remove his… well, you’re going to have pick up a copy (or steal it from a good friend at a convention) to find out. This isn’t just a cheap shockeroo to open the novel. No, John “Bolt Cutters” Rector keeps the shocks coming, chapter by chapter, all of them earned, and all of them blindsiding you. You could boil down the plot, and it would sound like a lot of other plots: “Bad stuff from a guy’s past comes back to haunt him.”
But remember: this is just the porch. And oh man, you have no idea what’s inside.
I’ve been through thousands of houses; I’ve even built a few of them myself. But I’m telling you, I couldn’t even begin to predict the floorplan of this baby.
So take a step inside Already Gone. I promise, you won’t regret it. Just make sure you close the door behind you, okay? I wouldn’t want your screams of delight to tip off the neighbors.
Duane Swierczynski is the author of several crime thrillers, including Severance Package, which has been optioned by Lionsgate films. He also writes the X-Men spinoff Cable for Marvel Comics as well as Immortal Iron Fist. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and children.