by Graham Brown
I like the wild places of the world. Not in real life, mind you, but on the pages of a book I can't resist them. With his debut novel, Black Rain, Graham Brown has added all the elements for a perfect adventure thriller--at least one written with me in mind. He's got the exotic location, the mysterious beast, the ancient puzzle, the cutting-edge science, and he integrates all of these elements into a smart and thoroughly engaging page-turner. It's the kind of debut I absolutely love to see, and all I want from Brown is... more.
What's the story? Well, it's too complex to go into real detail, but basically the National Research Institute believes there's an artifact lost deep in the Amazon that may hold the key to a limitless source of clean energy. An expedition sent to search for it has to contend with hostile natives, terrifying creatures, and cut-throat competitors who will do anything to beat them to the discovery.
I'll admit that none of these story elements is especially unique or original. But Brown's novel is--for lack of a better description--just darn entertaining. And he does so much right. The plotting of the novel is nice and tight. I won't swear that all of his science is accurate, but the stuff I know about rings true. And based on the creature he creates in Black Rain, it's obvious he knows a thing or two about animal biology.
Finally, it's worth mentioning that Brown does an unusually good job with character development. And this is great news--because it looks like his central characters are coming back in his next novel, Sun. I can't wait!