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View Full Version : My review for Robert McCammon's new book The Providence Rider



Nik Houser
12-30-2011, 09:35 PM
So, I recently got an arc for this novel, but can't post my review on Amazon until the book actually streetdates. So here ya go, in case you guys were curious. I believe CD is going to get a few copies of the signed edition, as well as the limited numbered edition, too.



50% DICKENS + 50% DUMAS = 100% MCCAMMON

BOTTOM LINE FIRST: This is a damn fun book that will make you gasp, laugh, bite your nails to the nubs, and cheer out loud.

This is a SPOILER-FREE review that will focus on my impressions as a reader, with only a few references to the brilliant plot points of the novel which can already be found in the book description on the Subterranean order page. To reveal anything further would be a disservice to both you, the potential reader, and the author of this absolutely dynamic adventure.

OVERVIEW
This novel is at once everything you could hope for from a historical thriller, and everything you've come to expect from a Matthew Corbett mystery. From the quite literal opening salvo that propels our young "problem solver" into his latest escapade, to the final sigh of relief that Matthew has once again narrowly escaped the jaws of death, the reader is plunged into an adventure filled-to-bursting with nefarious plots, international intrigue, and populated by a cast of superbly developed characters who offer Matthew unflagging friendship, unmitigated evil, and sometimes both.

The novel itself is a hybrid tale somewhere between the action-packed cat-and-mouse game that filled the pages of Mister Slaughter and the layer-upon-layer mystery of The Queen of Bedlam. Whereas Mister Slaughter focused on the brute mayhem and violence that could be inflicted upon Corbett's physical person in his pursuit to uncover the evils of the world around him, Providence Rider takes a backdoor approach in which Professor Fell wages a psychological war on Corbett in order to first get the young man to acquiesce to his demands, and then to further sink his teeth into Matthew's psyche as Corbett is exposed to the ruthless horrors of Fell's inner circle of villains.

REVELATIONS FOR BOTH US AND MATTHEW
In both Mister Slaughter and The Queen of Bedlam, we saw brief glimpses behind the dark curtain that surrounds Professor Fell and his empire of crime. In The Providence Rider, McCammon throws that curtain back with a dramatic flourish, bringing his full literary powers to bear as we are introduced to a cast of criminals the flavor of which readers haven't tasted since the days of Dickens. By turns seedy, snide, sinister and sexy, the sheer pageantry of villainy on display here (including a fiendishly clever first meeting of Corbett and the Professor) is both devilishly fun and truly harrowing. For as we revel in our look behind Fell's curtain, so too does Matthew pale at it.

How will he get away this time? How? HOW? That's the question we look forward to asking when we crack the cover of the latest Corbett mystery, and The Providence Rider offers it aplenty in a deftly woven narrative that keeps us guessing and turning pages until the very end.

Brilliant plotting aside, the other half of this story’s coin is character. The characters in this book leap off the page. The situations are, of course, improbable to put it mildly, but it is Matthew's character, as well as those of his supporting cast, that ground us, that make it real for us. Matthew Corbett is no superman. He's simply a young man doing his best to survive when he (as per usual) gets in over his head, which, in truth, is the only way to dig deep enough to uproot evil at its source-- that place where there is no light to shine upon black hearts save the fire that burns within Matthew himself.

HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES?
Providence Rider holds its own with the best of them. Speaks the Nightbird was rich in historical detail, atmosphere and mystery. The Queen of Bedlam had a multi-mystery plot, great action, and our first peek into Professor Fell's world. Mister Slaughter was a brilliant, brutal punch in the gut. Providence Rider shares the best qualities of its predecessors while being a wholly unique tale, a story of constant intrigue with an explosive finale that will leave both you and our protagonist reeling.

CAN I PICK THIS UP WITHOUT HAVING READ THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES?
Absolutely, though I'd personally recommend against it. McCammon does a brilliant job revisiting the touchstones in Corbett's career as a problem solver which have heretofore impacted him both personally and professionally, but to jump in now would deprive the first-time reader of experiencing the many triumphs and tragedies which have befallen Matthew prior to this novel, and which have engendered in his constant readers the devotion not only of a fan, but of a friend. Because at this point, that's what McCammon has made Matthew Corbett into. He is the friend you root for. The one you need to win out against the encroaching darkness, because more than anything, he reminds us what faith in one's self, as well as the faith of our friends, can achieve.

Here's a couple of my favorite lines from the book, which perfectly encapsulate the spirit of both Matthew Corbett, and his adventures.

"By now he was used to kicking over ordinary rocks and finding extraordinary horrors scuttling from underneath them in a desperate search for the protective dark."

"But, of course, following the unknown road was part of his business. His nature, also."

Do yourself a favor and enter Corbett's world. There's much darkness in it, but he's left a light on for you to read by.

mhatchett
12-31-2011, 01:07 PM
I love this series. Glad to hear the new entry is so good. Happy new year!
MDH