Sucker by Mark Lingane
|Sucker by Mark Lingane|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: It begins as a normal missing person case for PI Van H Avram but then all hell is let loose. Oh yes, the author/genre chameleon Mark Lingane goes back to detective noir/fantasy/sf also raising suspicions that he's the literary love child of Dashiell Hammett and Neil Gaiman.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 260||Date: February 2015|
|Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform|
|External links: Author's website|
Private Investigator Van H Avram is living in odd times. At least that's what he decides on the day he has to step over a dead body to get from his office to the street and not just any body: it's that of a skinny blond thing – the first of many. However life goes on and bills have to be paid so when a woman called Mina walks into Van's office and asks him to find Hugo Jorgen he doesn't refuse. Perhaps if at that point he'd realised where the search would lead, the brutally bloodied body count he would uncover and the link to a recurring childhood nightmare that materialises, then he may have refused. Too late now though…
Aussie IT expert/technical writer turned novelist Mark Lingane can't be accused of being a one trick author. We first heard of him through his detective noir/fantasy/sf debut Beyond Belief. He then moved on to Romancing the Stone type rom-com adventure starting with Chasing Heart. Now, via the saucy, drug addled alternative world of I Love Lucid and superlative YA series that started with Tesla we've come full circle to another but very different PI who begins normally and ends up feeling far, far from anything normal.
Indeed, by returning to his PI roots, Mark inadvertently invites comparisons between his first hero Joshua Richard and his latest, Van, but he needn't fear; any comparisons are highly favourable. Mark has grown as a writer and it's all to our benefit.
Sucker isn’t only action packed, it's packed full of alternative life forms – vampires (the clue is in the title!), the undead, living embodiments of evil – mixing them with all the natural ingredients of detective noir. Indeed the joy of world building means that Mark can mash it up to taste and he does. Alongside the blood lusting vamps we have 1930-esque red-lipsticked vamps and, in L (for Laura) Mallory, a more modern female police officer with feist and banter.
Actually that's another joy: Mark's superlatively paced humour is evident and without so much of the cultural name dropping and in jokes we saw in his debut. That may have been fun then but this time out Mark treats us to smiles and smirks that are less self-conscious without detracting from the tension. It's not totally devoid of homages for those with sharp eyes though. For instance I loved the passing nod to the animated feature film Up.
Meanwhile back at the tension, this is another area that Mark has improved on since the early days. Whatever length the chapters, they always finish with a hint, moment or question that stops us walking away or even putting the book down. I even found myself downloading it to my phone so as to never be too far away from my next fix.
The world of Sucker may be close to ours, and yet the twists ensure we realise that we're in a place where anything can happen. Buses fly, police are known as 'slow hands', each needing a 'watcher' to be successful and skinny blond girls drop like flies. (Yes, the blond has no 'e' despite the subject being female. This is no spelling error but the author's literary acknowledgement of female equality in a real world way.)
When it comes to the finale, all the stops are pulled out and the story diverts from Raymond Chandler to full on other-worldly Gaiman, and believe me, that's no criticism. Is the finale a little OTT? Maybe. Worth it as a spectacle? Most definitely; it's a photogenic story anyway but those last scenes definitely deserve a cinematic showing.
It's impossible to guess what an author like this will come up with next which makes the joy of discovering the answer all the better. Just don't wait too long Mark eh?
(A huge thank you to the author for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If this appeals try some more of the different moods of Mr L. Chasing Heart for romance and fast paced action, Tesla 1 the start of his excellent YA series (my favourite till this moment) and, of course, Beyond Belief where it all began.
You can read more book reviews or buy Sucker by Mark Lingane at Amazon.com.
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