Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review: A Killer in the Wind

I first became aware of author Andrew Klavan when I randomly chose his "Homelanders" series from the YA section of the library for my teenage son. He loved those books, so when I saw "A Killer in the Wind" on the new adult fiction shelves, I thought it might be one both my son and I would enjoy.

The story is compelling, and the character of Dan Champion is likeable, honest, courageous and moral, and just crazy enough to be sympathetic. The story centers on Champion's years-long hunt for the kingpin of a large child sex slave and torture/murder business. This is not subject matter I would want to pass on to my teenage son, however, so I'm glad I read it first.

Klavan's writing style is direct, honest and clear, and he managed the subject material well, walking that fine line of facing the brutality of the crimes while avoiding being too graphic about children kidnapped, locked up and sold to perverts. I appreciate the balance. I was nervous as I realized that was what the book was about, but it wasn't horrifying like it could have been.
 What I appreciated most about the book was Klavan's painfully honest portrayal of the female protagonist. Who she became in adulthood and how Champion handles an unexpected and disappointing reality are very well written-- heartbreakingly honest and sad, but Klavan never over-plays his hand.

I also really liked the element of Champion seeing ghosts and the excellent resolution to that issue. Overall, this was a decent detective story which did what I wanted it to do: pulling me out of the haze that finishing "The Wheel of Time" left me feeling.

Further sensitivity warnings:
There are a few sex scenes between Champion and his lady, but again, not terribly graphic, but perhaps a tad more descriptive than I would have liked. There is also a lot of language-- the world of New York cops and evil criminals being what it is, though, thankfully, not so much that it distracted from the story.

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