Monday, March 16, 2009

Male fantasy fulfillment - an erotic page-turner

Night of the Furies
by David Angsten

I wanted to devour this novel as soon as it was published because I'd LOVED Angsten's debut thriller, Dark Gold. But I'm mildly obsessed with saving just the right novel for my Thanksgiving flights, so delayed gratification it was. The book was definitely worth the wait, and made for excellent airplane reading.

Dark Gold was set to great effect in Mexico. Here, Angsten takes us most evocatively to Greece. Note to self: Never travel with David Angsten. In Angsten's hands, even the most appealing destinations are filled with menace and terror. As the novel opens, we are reintroduced to brothers Jack and Dan Duran. Readers of Dark Gold will remember them from the first novel, but I'd have to say quite emphatically that knowledge of their earlier exploits is unnecessary. Prior events are touched on only in passing. This makes sense, of course, so as not to alienate new readers, but I was mildly disappointed that there wasn't more... continuity. More on that in a moment.

Jack and Dan, joined by Dan's girlfriend Phoebe, are on a covert mission. They're quite illegally visiting the historic site of the Oracle of Delphi in the middle of the night. Dan is indulging in one of his strange investigations, and with proper homage to history, and a canister of ethylene (which supposedly caused the original visions) they've got the perfect set up for Phoebe to provide a prophesy. Which she does--along with the warning, "The Furies are coming!"

The warning, however, is dismissed, and soon Phoebe has to return to her archeological dig. Jack, too, is planning to move on, when Dan gets a call from an old roommate, Basri. With a trust-fund, a yacht, and some wildly libidinous ways, Basri makes an ideal stand-in for Dionysus. He tempts Dan and Jack into a wild pleasure cruise on his yacht full of Hellenic beauties. Before embarking, the brothers are given yet another warning, and here I grew frustrated. ANOTHER yacht full of dangerous beauties? Seriously, Jack, will you EVER learn? Surely after the events in Mexico he should have been somewhat more circumspect?

See? That's how you can tell I'm a woman, because basically these guys were being offered an enormous Greek orgy, and pretty much nothing was going to keep them off that boat. I can't tell much more, except to say that there's a whole lot of sex and then things go downhill with staggering speed. I have to imagine that male readers are going to love the more... graphic aspects of the novel. Yeah, Angsten really goes there. For the women, well, I suppose it depends on the woman. There is a lot of eroticism in this novel, but it's meant to be somewhat disturbing, and it is.

Jack and Dan have gotten themselves into trouble unlike, quite frankly, anything I've seen in fiction. The front end of the novel is loaded with a significant amount of exposition. It's slightly unfortunate, but Angsten does a good job of giving readers an education on Greece and its art, history, mythology, and religion. It's quite interesting, and the lessons are put to good use within the plot. Once events get going, the pace moves along at a break-neck speed. Angsten really excels at writing chapters that end on hooks so that you literally find yourself unable to put the book down. It's precisely what I'm looking for on a transcontinental flight.

I waffled over whether to give this novel four or five stars. The plot, while riveting, isn't all that convoluted or complex. However, there were some pretty delightful revelations late in the game. There were ridiculous male fantasy-fulfilling sex scenes, but I can't honestly call them gratuitous. There was a deplorable lack of sea monsters, but, uh, that's my own personal bias. And I guess I can't blame the author if his characters sometimes act like idiots. In the end, a slightly generous five stars for tremendous action, pacing, and sheer outlandish fun!

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