Chuck Logan was recommended to me as a good thriller writer who, like John Sandford, lives in and writes about Minnesota.
I can’t say that I won’t read any more of his books. But I’m afraid I liked this one a lot less than I hoped to.
I would have preferred to start with the first book in the Phil Broker series, Absolute Zero, but my bookstore didn’t have a copy. So I went with Number Two, The Big Law.
I’ve written before about male fantasy figures as series heroes. I think Phil Broker (mostly) fits into this category. He’s rich as a result of finding a huge treasure of gold in a foreign land. He lives in his own big, rustic house on the shore of Lake Superior, having retired young from police work. Over his fireplace he has hung a Viking dragon’s head ship’s prow (that wins him points with me).
On the other hand, most male fantasies don’t include raising a baby singlehanded.
Phil has a wife, a female soldier (and hero). She has returned to active service and is currently serving in Bosnia (the book was published in 1998) when Broker gets involved in a case involving his ex-wife, Caren Angland.
Caren calls him unexpectedly, asking to come and see him. She’s frightened. She’s married now to Keith Angland, another cop and Phil’s former friend. She has proof that Keith is crooked. That he has taken money from the Russian mafia and murdered an informant.
As she flees her husband, Caren picks up a newspaper reporter, Tom James, who is supposed to document the story. But Keith follows and gets to Phil’s house ahead of her. In the violence that follows, Caren falls into a waterfall to her death, Tom James gets shot, and Keith is arrested for Caren’s murder.
But if that’s the end of the story, why do both Phil and his soldier wife get threatening letters shortly afterward?
And what happened to the money Keith got from the mob?
Chuck Logan is a good writer. The story builds tension nicely. The writing is fresh and sharp. Logan chooses his words carefully, and places them for maximum effect.
And yet… I had trouble caring much.
I’ve been trying to figure out why I couldn’t identify with Phil Broker. I can’t point to a single defect in Logan’s depiction of his character.
But I felt like I couldn’t get near the man. He never came alive for me. Even though he displays great passion in his concern to protect his baby daughter, he never gets my full sympathy.
I’m a writer. I’m supposed to be able to analyze these things. But I can’t identify what’s wrong here.
I’ll probably have to read another in the series to see if the problem is Logan’s or mine.