Mark Terry

Sunday, May 13, 2007

On Your Reading Radar: Critical Space by Greg Rucka

May 14, 2007

Critical Space
by Greg Rucka
Paperback: $6.99
ISBN: 0-553-58179-1

I've commented here how much I like the two "Queen & Country" novels by Greg Rucka. Those would be "Private Wars" and "A Gentleman's Game." If anything, Rucka's novels featuring high-level bodyguard Atticus Kodiak are even better, although to be fair, they're quite different books with very different characters.

In "Critical Space," Atticus and his partners in his security firm are pretty much going about their booming business. In the past, they encountered a female assassin of the highest calibre, code-named Drama, and she scared the hell out of all of them. Drama, it seems, is one of what is dubbed The Ten, although The Ten aren't necessarily connected, they are several world-class assassins, the highest level professionals in a very cold game indeed. Because Atticus is one of the few people to have encountered Drama and lived--through no particular skill on his part--various government agencies constantly grill Atticus on what he knows about Drama (almost nothing) and keep him loosely informed (very loosely) as to her whereabouts.

Atticus and his team are preparing to do a job for one of their favorite clients when he is informed the Drama may be in the U.S. In addition, he is told, they think another assassin, this one dubbed Oxford, may also be in the U.S.

Well, as you can imagine, everything goes to hell.

How much more should I tell you? Would it ruin the surprise? Probably not, because the back cover crap pretty much gives it away. So if you want to be totally surprised, skip down a bit.

*********************** SKIP THIS HERE*******************************************
Drama kidnaps their client and exchanges her for Atticus. She then kidnaps Atticus and convinces him to bodyguard her--from Oxford. Is he now the poster child for Stockholm Syndrome, when he agrees? Things, naturally, don't go as well as Drama and Atticus plan, and when they narrowly escape with their lives, Atticus manages to dig up one of Oxford's bankers and steals his money in an attempt to have leverage on the assassin--but Oxford's response is to start killing everybody close to Atticus. The plot unwinds in many unexpected ways with a tense standoff and not completely unexpected climax.

*********************SPOILER OVER*************************************************
I was fairly blown away by this book, as I was by the other two I've read by him. There's something about Rucka's writing and plotting and characterization that really works for me. His pacing is a bit slow compared to some thrillers, but no less engrossing. There's a degree of detail that really suggests this guy does his research, but it doesn't bog things down. If you're into this type of thriller, Rucka's your man. I for one am thrilled there are 4 other Atticus Kodiak books with a fifth coming out this summer. He's also got a couple stand-alones I haven't read. They're definitely on my buy-soon list.

Mark Terry


Blogger spyscribbler said...

I had trouble getting into Gentleman's Game, but as soon as picked up Private Wars, I was hooked. I bet I'll love Gentleman's Game when I go back to it.

I'll have to try his Atticus books, too!

1:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I had the same problem, SS, but when I got back to GG, I loved it. This Atticus book is more accessible.

2:55 PM  

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