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CHINA LAKE by Meg Gardiner April 13, 2007

Posted by a Wristfister in Books, Crime/Mystery, Fiction, Suspense/Thriller.
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Published by Hodder & Stoughton [2002], hardcover, 346 pages.

Reviewed by Bowie.

Synopsis: The Reverend Pete Wyoming is arming his flock – and not just with the scriptures. The way he sees it, the end of the world is nigh and he’s ready for judgement. But judgement comes in unexpected ways. Evan Delaney is shocked to discover that her ex-sister-in-law [Tabitha] has joined The Remnant – Wyoming’s fanatical band of disciples. And that she is trying to regain custody of her six-year-old son, Luke, Evan’s nephew, currently in Evan’s care while his father is posted to the Naval Air Warfare Center. Along with her boyfriend, lawyer Jesse Blackburn, Evan tackles The Remnant head on, convinced that they have some more sinister agenda than is immediately apparent. Crime thriller action and mayhem ensue.

Review: Like many folks recently, I sought out China Lake because of Stephen King’s article (click here) in EW. While I can’t say that I’m as impressed as Mr. King was, I can say that I will certainly try to seek out more of Meg Gardiner’s novels. This one certainly hooks you with fast pacing and clever writing. Only I struggled through the middle act as needless conflicts arose through stupid decisions made mostly by Evan, complicating an already complicated plot. Drastic and sudden shifts in location that didn’t flow well hampered my mood to finish the book. But the later third really exemplifies the term “page-turner”. Maybe it was morbid curiosity that forced me to see Evan’s nightmare come to its resolution. Whatever the case, the last act satisfactorily thrilled me enough to recommend this as a good, trashy crime mystery.

I’ll end my review with an excerpt from the book in order to give you a flavor of what to expect should you ever pick it up:

Wyoming surveyed me with a stare that started at my feet, rode up my legs and seemed to slide under my skirt and blouse. He seemed unimpressed… Still, by the time his eyes reached my face, I felt flushed…Wearily I held up the flyer and said, to the camera, ‘Tell your cartoonist that Millennium is spelled with two Ns.’ Sometimes I am too clever for my own good. The hipshot quip can ricochet. As I walked away, Wyoming said,’Delaney, you said your name was? Tell the cartoonist yourself. You’re related to her.’ I couldn’t help it – I stopped dead and stared at the flyer. The grim and flashy cartoons looked familiar. It was the style, a cross between Spiderman and Xena, Warrior Princess. I flipped to the back page, the final drawing, where she would sign it. Damn. In tiny letters, Tabitha Delaney. My brother’s wife. Blessed are the meek, for they keep their mouths shut in front of a TV crew.

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