My students regularly ask me about books and authors and also frequently ask, “what do you read when you are not reading Great Books?” It surprises them when I mention certain science-fiction and fantasy authors and I am always open for recommendations. Not long ago I was reading a blog, and novelist Andrew Klavan was mentioned. I was aware of Klavan, but had not read any of his works. Starting with some of his newer works, I must say I have been impressed. I will be finishing some of his YA fiction soon and will blog on that but wanted to start here with his most recent adult novel, A Killer in the Wind.
This novel might best fit into the genre of psycho-thriller with moments of great suspense, and some enjoyable action-adventure. Characters Dan Champion, former military and investigator, former New York City police detective, and Samantha, a librarian, are both broken and yet resilient in a deeply human fashion. Both a testament of the human spirit over the perversion of others. While the story explores human depravity and the darkness of the soul, it is not done in a prurient manner that many authors opt for.
Klavan is a wordsmith and can certainly evoke laughter, sadness, excitement and reflection through his characters and setting. The plot is clear with the literary convention of flashbacks used throughout. Three years ago, working vice for the NYPD, Dan Champion uncovered a sex slavery ring run by a kingpin known only as the Fat Woman. There is a scene that portrays brilliantly the human capacity for self-deception when despite the evil perpetrated by the Fat Woman, she blames others and accepts no responsibility for her actions. Dan becomes fixated with seeing her brought to justice.
Some of the story is set in the contemporary moment with Champion having encounters with “ghosts” and hallucinations of people who he is convinced do not exist. The story takes a turn toward the action and suspense when Dan is confronted by trained killers. As is true of all good works of this nature, there are lots of questions asked in detective fashion with some of the answers leading to unexpected places. One can only hope that Andrew Klavan brings us more tales about the life and work of Dan Champion.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.