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Bookends: What if the old souls come back? November 5, 2015

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: What if the old souls come back?

By Dan Davidson

May 30, 2015

– 822 words –

 

The IntrudersThe Intruders

By Michael Marshall Smith

HarperCollins e-books

394 pages

$9.99

The novel begins with the murder of a mother and son, on a night when they actually seem to be communicating for a change. The man at the door said he was from the FBI, but the gun, the lighter fluid and the flame said something else. “Where is it?” he kept asking, and poor Gina had no idea what he was talking about, other than that it must be connected to her husband, Bill, and he was not home.

The man who said he was from the FBI went by the name of Richard Shepherd, but his last name was really more of a job description. It defined his role within the organization known as Qui Revert. He was ruthless because it was his job, and if he did it well his superiors might, some day, reward him with the immortality they enjoyed.

About half of this story is told by Jack Whalen, an ex-cop from LA, who has become a successful writer following the events (which are never quite clear) that caused him to resign from the LAPD. He now lives nearer to Seattle, with his wife, Amy, who works in advertising and sometimes has to travel.

When Jack was in high school he knew a girl named Donna, a girl who killed herself and left behind a smudged note, a girl who never quite fit in, a girl who had desperately wanted to connect with Gary Fisher, the school’s alpha male.

Twenty years after that event and two weeks after Gina’s bad night, Gary turns up on Jack’s doorstep with a really weird story, and an assignment he wants Jack to take on.

Jack’s reluctant. The truth is the next book just isn’t coming along, and his wife has been acting strange lately, as if she’s not quite herself sometimes. When did she start secretly smoking and listening to big band jazz?

While Jack’s trying to decide what to do, a little girl named Madison goes missing not too far away. It happens after she meets Shepherd on the beach, but he doesn’t take her. He starts a process that takes her over, and she becomes the walking puppet for another consciousness, that of a very bad man named Marcus, a serial killer who vanished some years ago, just as the police were about to catch up with him. The book follows Madison/Marcus as she leaves home and runs off to the city, there to meet with other members of Qui Revert, who would much rather she/he didn’t still exist.

Well before the end of the book, we find we are dealing with a kind of reincarnation. The essence of a person, whatever you call it, is recycled into a new being, but sometimes, in some special places, like the old brownstone in the city that was built on what used to be a sacred place for the local natives, the walls between the here and the hereafter are thin, and the personality that used to own the essence survives and can be coaxed forth by certain talismans.

The Shepherds are in charge of this process. Madison is being shepherded to become Marcus, though the process has begun a decade too soon. Amy was approached when she was 18, and someone named Rose is taking up more and more of her mental and emotional space.

Some people can’t deal with the mental and emotional dissonance, and end up like Donna. Some people, like Amy, chose this kind of personality suicide because of some event in their present life that they can’t handle. Rose just has a stronger will than Amy, and is determined to bring back the essence of the jazz musician she loved in that earlier life.

Gary and Jack investigate on their separate tracks and eventually come together in a way that surprises Jack more than Gary. Jack actually stumbles onto much of what Gary has reasoned out when he goes looking for Amy, who has gone missing after a trip to Seattle that was only supposed to be a brief one.

I’m not going to say more than that. I picked this up because of the BBC America mini-series that ran last fall in eight episodes. I had a feeling there was more to the story. The Internet information on the series says it was cancelled after one season, but in truth it was simply a video novel in eight chapters and there was no reason for it to be continued beyond that somewhat open ending. There were a lot of changes between the book and the series, and the book has a lot more detail, but I would have to say that the series was quite faithful to the main plot lines and characters. I enjoyed both versions.

-30-

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