|The Three Day Affair by Michael Kardos|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A tense thriller that teases you in slowly and then won't let go. The author has joked that it's Deliverance set indoors. I confirm there are no pigs or duelling banjos but don't let that put you off.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: January 2013|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
|External links: Author's website|
How well do you know your best friends? Will thought he knew Jeffrey, Nolan and Evan particularly well. Heck, they'd known each other since college at Princeton, before the advent of wives and partners. However, Will's assurance becomes less certain during a golfing weekend. Just blokes together with the WaGs out the way; what could go wrong? Nothing till Jeffrey stops the car to pop into a convenience store and emerges with only the till's contents and the shop assistant he's kidnapped. What do they do? A simple enough question but as the hours tick by it becomes more complicated.
Michael Kardos may be a debut novelist but he knows something about writing. As evidence of this I offer you his award for One Last Good Time (a collection of short stories) and his day job as professor of English and Co-Director of Creative Writing at Mississippi State University. He doesn't rest on his laurels though; this thriller puts his money where his pen is as he takes four ordinary guys, places them in an extraordinary situation and allows us to watch what happens. It may seem a little odd that the lads don't just refuse to move when the kidnapper and the victim get in the car, but Michael has thought this one through, making the result credible.
Will, a happily married drummer with a burgeoning record producing career can't believe how lucky he is to have moved to such a nice area, Nolan is a senator about to run for president, Evan's a hot shot lawyer and former musical hippy Jeffrey has made his fortune by starting an internet company. Ok, so they aren't butcher, baker, candlestick maker ordinary but, give or take a spliff, they're law abiding until a moment of non-thought gives them nightmares for the rest of their lives.
We're present as the kidnap and its consequences unfold under Will's narration, interspersed with his memories of the lads' joint history. The jumping back and forth remains logical and easy to follow, informing rather than irritating and becoming more relevant as the story unfolds. It also performs and interesting function: not only filling out the book but, as the weekend becomes more tense, prolonging the suspense as our attention is dragged from the unfolding scene in which the friends are forced to react to changing circumstances as well as the raw, fraught emotions that are communicated so well. My only mild niggle is that I wish Will wouldn't go on so about how wonderful his neighbourhood is. Then I wonder if, given his luck, I'd go on about it any less… Ok, I'll let him have that one.
A very good crime novel needs twists and this, being a very good crime novel, has them. The revelations are gentle to begin with and then Michael Kardos builds up to some bone-shakers. This is a roller coaster where bits may seem vaguely predictable in places, but, for me, they turn out to be unimportant as there's more that can't be guessed than can, building up to a right stonking one (or two).
The question is 'How much of this is biographical?' Michael K went to Princeton, is indeed a drummer (as a cursory search of 'You Tube' will reveal) and is seemingly an ordinary (although very talented) bloke. Aaah but does he know someone capable of kidnapping? He probably doesn't think so but then neither did Will…
If you've enjoyed this and would like to see what else can go awry between friends in thrillers, try Even Flow by Darragh McManus.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Three Day Affair by Michael Kardos at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Three Day Affair by Michael Kardos at Amazon.com.
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