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Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters



Author/ Jonathon King / Onyx – New American Library / Soft Covers

Price $9.99 CAN. April 2003

A nominee for an Edgar Award 2003 as Best First Novel.

'Writer King gives the story a powerful sense of urgency'

Newcomer King bravely takes on very familiar territory – The Florida Everglades and their rambunctious denizens : mostly outlaws descended from C18th pioneers who detest the encroachments of progress upon their once virgin swampland paradise - in his debut mystery THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT. A milieu that has seen many a mystery novel sink without a trace weighed down by naturalistic detail and disdain for hard-core hicks stuck out in the sticks.

Yet he manages to skirt around almost every cliché of this rural redneck type of ‘gator-ridden and snake-infested yarn. His hero is a reclusive former cop from Philadelphia, umder-achiever and self-defeatist Max Freeman, who is atoning in the wilderness after his accidental slaying of a twelve-year old back on his beat. Freeman is also recovering from an unfaithful wife, and yet he cannot resist still playing amateur detective after a young girl’s dehydrated corpse is washed up on his doorstep. She is one of a handful of children abducted and left to perish in his vicinity. The State of Florida is in an uproar over these kids being stolen from under their parents’ very noses.

Understandably Freeman swiftly is elected the chief suspect and the deeper he digs himself down into the molasses-thick murk the more he draws the attention of the police and the FBI to his peculiar hermit’s existence Fortunately Freeman has the help of a clever lawyer Billy Manchester in keeping him out of custody. The killer seems to infallibly be one step ahead of Max and is determined to implicate him thoroughly in the serial murders. When Freeman is aided by a mysterious gaggle of back-country boys, the sons of pioneers whose animosity towards strangers is legendary, this quartet of woodsmen have their own reasons to catch the culprit. Nonetheless with their collusion he is able to redeem himself in part by finding one of the girls still alive. The apparent murderer is also located but is found dead by his own hand.

Max is not convinced that the case is solved so neatly and still wants to go it alone in his quest for personal redemption. Writer King gives the story a powerful sense of urgency as his fish-out-water protagonist plunges further and further into a treacherous wilderness,,the Everglades which are described with a loving attention to detail - so much so that you can smell the brackish air and taste the silty water on almost every page, He never lets the local colour and flora and fauna slow down his narrative in the least. It remains the sinister backcloth to the terrible crisis that Max Freeman must undergo in order to fully regain his manhood and take his appropriate place back in civilized society.

© Alex Grant April 2003

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