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Friday, July 27, 2007

"The Intruders" by Michael Marshall

Official Michael Marshall Website
Order “The IntrudersHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE


As much as I love reading fantasy, science fiction and horror, sometimes it’s nice to just sit down with a good mystery thriller and “The Intruders” by Michael Marshall (Smith) seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Already nominated for the Crime Writers Association’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and picked up by the BBC to be adapted into a drama television series, “The Intruders” marks the American hardcover debut for the internationally, New York Times bestselling novelist/screenwriter whose bibliography consists of the Philip K. Dick Award-winning “Only Forward”, “Spares”, the Warner Bros. Pictures-optioned “One of Us”, the acclaimed “Straw Men” trilogy, and various short fiction including “Hell Hath Enlarged Herself” which is currently being developed as a feature film.

As far as crime novels go, “The Intruders” starts out competently enough, if a little conventional. A murder opens the book, characters are introduced—ex-cop Jack Whalen, lawyer Gary Fisher (Jack’s former high school classmate), Jack’s wife Amy, nine-year-old girl Madison, a killer called Shepherd—and mysteries are established including a homicide that Gary believes is much more than the open-and-shut case the police think it is; suspicious activity which points to Amy’s possible disappearance or her having an affair; and a little girl lost from her family who is somehow tied to the dangerous Shepherd. Following the setup, things start to pick up dramatically, threads become connected and by the end of the book readers will discover just how everything fits together. Of course, getting to that point will be a little tricky—and a lot of fun!—since the pathway is a convoluted one, full of red herrings, shocking twists and unexpected revelations, all expertly handled by an author who really knows what he’s doing. In effect, “The Intruders” is the kind of book that lets readers think they have everything figured out when in reality they don’t have a clue. Seriously, at some point in the book the author goes off on a whole other tangent that is mind-blowing. I don’t like ruining surprises though, so all I can say is be prepared.

The Intruders” is one of those rare books where I don’t really have anything negative to say. For instance, the prose is excellent—whether it’s witty dialogue, insightful commentary, descriptive details or amusing metaphors, Michael Marshall just has a way with words. Characterization is almost as impressive. It doesn’t matter if the author’s writing from a first-person point-of-view (Jack), the third-person, from a villain’s perspective, or that of a little girl, Marshall excels at any format and really captures the essence of each distinctive personality, particularly Jack's. Atmospherically, “The Intruders” does a great job of conveying whatever it is the characters are feeling—fear, paranoia, confusion, sadness, anger, desperation—and it’s hard not to get caught up in the different moods. Of the story, the plotting, pacing, etc., are handled confidently and in a manner that speaks of the author’s obvious experience. In fact, it’s pretty easy to see why so many of Michael Marshall’s works are picked up for movie/TV/comic book adaptation—they’re just expertly-written, highly accessible stories that translate well into other formats. Such is the case with “The Intruders”, which is basically a standalone novel that wraps up all of the major plotlines, but sets up events so the story can continue, explaining why BBC is able to create a whole television series based on just one book. While a TV show is great, I’m personally hoping we’ll get to see a sequel or two ;)

For my first Michael Marshall novel, I have to say that I really enjoyed myself. I was just hoping for a solid crime fiction that I could sit back and relax with. Instead, I got something so much more with “The Intruders”—an intelligent, skillfully composed, exhilarating thriller that exceeded any of my wildest expectations. In short, I’m now officially a Michael Marshall advocate and I cannot WAIT to go out there and pick up the rest of his books. Highly recommended to both fans of the author’s work and especially to readers who haven’t yet had the pleasure…

4 comments:

Katie M. said...

I'm reading this one at the moment. I'll have to come back and read your review once I've finished.

Robert said...

Katie, very cool. I'll be interested to see what you think of the book. Nice blog btw :D

Katie M. said...

I loved it. LOVED IT. It was just a great book. I hadn't really expected it to be so good. When it started I thought I had it nailed, like you said the beginning was conventional... but wow it just really picked up.

one of my favorite reads ever.

Robert said...

Katie, I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. It's definitely a great book and I hope more people check it out...

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