Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Darwin's NightmareDarwin's Nightmare by Mike Knowles
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The term “action novel” does not seem to be widely used, anyway not as widely as “action movie”. Mike Knowles’ “Darwin’s Nightmare” is almost a clinically pure action novel, which means that virtually the entire text describes action - beating people up, getting beaten up, killing other people in order not to get killed by them, and performing various evasive maneuvers. There is virtually nothing else in the book; no characterizations and no psychological or sociological observations. This may sound as if I were ridiculing the convention of the novel, yet is not a criticism – I prefer the “pure action” convention over pretentious attempts of the majority of modern crime fiction writers to convey more than just action in their novels, while they have no skills or depth to do that, and usually nothing interesting to say. At least, Mr. Knowles is honest when he gives the reader a book of non-stop beatings and killings instead of inane, amateur philosophizing so common in the horrid works of Dan Brown, James Patterson, and many, many others.

Wilson is a freelance criminal who at the moment works for an Italian mob boss in Hamilton, Canada. His assignment is to steal certain bag at the airport. He succeeds at the task, but the theft sets an avalanche of consequences that involve not only Italian, but also Russian mob, and various other criminals. Many, many people die trying to get the bag. During short breaks in current maiming and killing, Wilson brings back memories of his parents' criminal past, his own beginnings in the trade, and various maimings and killings from the past. By coincidence, while I was reading "Darwin's Nightmare" on the trolley, I listened to an old Jefferson Airplane's song, "Crown of Creation". Yeah, the human race is precisely the crown of creation.

What I actually dislike about the novel are the rare instances when the author goes outside the "pure action" convention and, for instance, writes about how Wilson's parents stole only from rich people or how Wilson himself only kills people who deserve it, and how it all relates to Darwin's theory.

Two and a half stars.

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