Monday, August 11, 2014

Whack Job - Mike Baron

Mike Baron is another author whose work I read first in comic books, but he's a fine novelist as well. I'd previously read and enjoyed his horror novel HELMET HEAD. WHACK JOB is an action/adventure thriller (or at least it starts out that way) and is equally entertaining.

This novel opens with a top-secret black ops mission to Libya several years ago that finds American agents infiltrating a desert palace to assassinate Moammar Gaddafi. Things don't go as planned, however, and Otto White is apparently the only survivor from the botched mission. While he was in the palace he witnessed a bizarre phenomenon, the spontaneous combustion of one of Gaddafi's sons, but no one believes him. A pariah in the intelligence community, Otto winds up living in isolation on a Colorado mountaintop.

Until a wave of spontaneous human combustion begins to kill off world leaders and important financial figures, and then Otto is recruited to head up the investigation. Naturally, he uncovers ties to what happened back in Libya, but after that the investigation gets weirder and weirder and takes him to places he never expected to go—literally.

Otto White and his German Shepherd dog Steve are about as likable a pair of protagonists as you're likely to find. Otto is damaged but tough and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, no matter where it leads him. Baron keeps things moving along at a nice pace, all the way to an offbeat but satisfying conclusion. If you enjoy thrillers where nothing is what it seems and things don't turn out like you'd expect, then WHACK JOB gets a high recommendation from me.

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