book: Acts of Nature (2007) by Jonathon King

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Ex-cop Max Freeman and his cop girlfriend Sherry Richards decide to go to a remote shack in the Florida Everglades to enjoy a few days’ R&R. Cut off from the outside world, little do they realize that a major hurricane is homing in on the area. In the aftermath of the storm, with Sherry seriously injured, they must endeavor to get back to civilization. In their way are not just natural hazards like alligators and polluted water but human foes — a team of looters and a pair of “security consultants”/hitmen sent to make sure the storm damage hasn’t revealed an oil company’s dirty secret . . .

I suppose this thriller does the business, but for me it came across as a tad flat. We spend the first two-thirds or so of the text rotating between Max’s first-person narrative and third-person accounts of the looters and one of the heavies, Harmon. While Max’s chapters usually serve to advance the story, the chapters belonging to the other two strands all too often didn’t really seem to me to go anywhere; in particular, we get loads of fleshing-out of the character Harmon, which might be fine except that, in the end, he doesn’t play all that much of a part in the plot. Matters improve a lot when first two of the strands are brought together, followed by the third, but by then it’s quite late in the book.

The novel’s not helped by copious examples of sloppy writing — sentences that don’t parse, missing parenthetical commas, etc. — and even sloppier proofreading. A couple of times I did an odd double-take, one part of my mind suggesting I was reading an ARC even as the other was assuring me that the object in my mitts was an actual finished hardback.

On the plus side, quite a lot of Max’s narrative — which forms the bulk of the book — has a nice hardboiled feel to it. I could see this making a great rural neonoir movie . . . and perhaps someone will do just that.

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2 thoughts on “book: Acts of Nature (2007) by Jonathon King

    • I sort of “quite liked” this, but had no mad urge to rush out and buy more. He seems to have a big fan club, though, so clearly lots of people get more out of his books than I got out of this one.

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