Reivew: Pagan Moon
Pagan Moon is a masterpiece of a thriller. It starts out with a simple premise and a simple hero and a simple problem. That simplicity lulls you into believing you’re reading a simple police procedural. The first quarter of the book has all the standard pieces in place: a strange series of killings; a cover-up by powerful people; a detective that steps on important toes; etc. But very early the plot becomes more and more complex.
In the early going, there are great passages like this one about what our hero deals with in a routine day:
The tattooed arms of the wannabe storm trooper were flung over his head like he was a referee signaling a touchdown. His assailant had scored all right.
Mr. Davis knows his characters well and gives them flesh and blood that you will find refreshingly real. When our hero gets fired from his job for all the wrong reasons, you feel for him because the firing was done according to the clinical, heartless HR manual you’ve encountered at some point in your career. Later, we find our hero coming out of a depression:
The shower felt good. I’d gone several days without one. I didn’t even know what day it was. Each morning had rolled into an afternoon and then into an evening. I turned down the cold and let the steamy vapor whip my body into sensibility. It stung my skin till it turned crimson.
Once the stage is set and the players introduced, he begins to crank up the plot: satanic rites, a powerful lawyer who slams doors at every turn, a suicidal beauty, and a whole lot of odd clues that don’t make sense. After all the bad things have happened, the really bad things begin:
When I hit the kitchen, a blast of white-hot heat slammed me like a burning sledge, tumbling me backward over a dinette chair. A tidal wave of flame rolled across the ceiling, singing my hair.
It’s written in first person and we weren’t sent to a flash back at the beginning, therefore he must have lived through everything he’s telling us. Nonetheless, in the hands of Mr. Davis, you will fear for our humble narrator’s life at every turn. When things take a turn from really bad to terrible, you will feel for the hero as he decides to get up and fight:
I hadn’t seen it coming, felt I should have. I could only swim in my own remorse, hoping I could struggle through toward a distant shore named revenge.
The story takes you from Florida’s mansions to backwaters, drawing a clear picture each time. You will even find yourself in an equally well drawn Smoky Mountain castle. Each event that takes you from one place to the other carries that distinct necessity: motivating factors. These factors weave a terrific backstory that will have you cheering your hero forward against all odds. And when the final showdown begins, you will not put it down.
I know, a lot of reviews say, ‘unputdownable’, but this one really is. You will hurry your reading pace in a desperate struggle to find out who lives and who dies and who rots in hell.
There is one thing you will have to do: put up with a lot of typos. Not the typical kind of ignorant misspellings and bad grammar, this one was clean in that regard. But it has missing letters and e-formatting issues that are distracting. (example: then he emembered where). I urge you to plow through it. The story is worth it, and I believe Mr. Davis is working on fixing them. It is this superficial issue that holds back a fifth star.
Bottom Line: Buy the book, it’s a great story. And then do what I did, urge the author to write more of them!