Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cloudburst and Simple Simon - Ryne Douglas Pearson

I've been reading a lot lately (travel, etc) but I've been traveling without my laptop, so I'm a bit behind on the Vintage Crime Blog. Books I've read but not blogged include Simple Simon and Cloudburst by Ryne Douglas Pearson and The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler. I'm going to do a brief Ryne Douglas Pearson (@rynedp on twitter!) roundup to cover those two novels.

I had never heard of Ryne Douglas Pearson before a fateful retweet on twitter. I was on vacation with my family and-the in-laws, when I saw one of my twitter peeps RT an offer on Cloudburst for free on the Kindle. I did a quick google of the author, and found out that he was the author of Simple Simon, the novel that served as the basis for Mercury Rising. I actually saw that movie when it first came out. I immediately downloaded Cloudburst and started reading it after I finished up The Hypnotist while on vacation.

The novel has a really fast start. It is pretty much the best start of a novel that I've read since Persuader by Lee Child. A person is killed in Los Angeles in a huge rain of bullets and missiles which starts a chain of events in Greece, Los Angeles, and Libya. The story is told from the perspective of four people primarily. Art Jefferson, a career agent with the FBI, Bud DiContino, newly promoted chief of the NSA, Bart Hendrickson, the pilot of a 747 that gets hijacked, and DONNER, a double agent in Libya.

Once the story is set, the different characters are all moving along different story lines that you soon find out are interconnected. Art has to track down the assasins, the 747 gets hijacked - and mysterious cargo gets loaded onto the plane in Libya. Meanwhile Bud has to manage the whole situation from DC alongside a newly sworn in president.

The story moves along quickly, and the ending is exciting. The military jargon is accurate, but not obtrusive. I like how some old school fighter planes end up getting reactivated during the story as well.

Overall, the story had a great beginning and ending, and left me wanting more, which was nice since at the end of the kindle edition, the publisher kindly included the first few chapters of Simple Simon, the novel that the move Mercury rising was based off of.

Simple Simon is the story of a 16 year old autistic boy who accidentally starts decoding the governments newest multi-billion dollar encryption scheme. The messages that he decrypts leads him to call a phone number, and then things start getting crazy. Long story short, a government agent kills his parents, and he ends up getting taken in by Art Jefferson, the same character that starred in Cloudburst. It turns out that his wife Anne is one of Simon's physicians. They take him into foster care.

Meanwhile, the government agency that has developed this algorithm has decided Simon needs to be eliminated. They also enlist a hacker to make it look like Art Jefferson is a crooked agent. Not only is he being chased by government agents, he is also being chased by Keiko, a sadistic japanese torture artist (this character was actually removed from the film, probably because filming the scenes would be so bloody that they would freak a few people out).

This book has great pacing, and the story is over before you know it, but in a very satisfying way. I would say this book is better than Cloudburst but not by much.

I'm about to start Mercury Rising (the film) in 15 minutes, so that should be fun to watch and compare to the novel. I still need to write a quick review of The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler!


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