Author: Andrew Post
Publisher: Medallion Press (February 1,2013)
There’s the old adage about not judging a book by its cover (though sometimes publishers may spend several thousand dollars designing them). The same could probably be said about judging a book by a blurb. Picking up Andrew Post’s, Knuckleduster, one’s not only greeted with poor cover art but the blurb on the front about tempering rage with brass knuckles made this book seem as unappealing as a root canal.
We’re given an interesting protagonist in Brody Calhoun, a veteran who was blinded in an ambush in Egypt. He now makes his money using brass knuckles to beat up men who knock around their wives and girlfriends when they had one too many. The reason he asks for the money is so that he can buy batteries to recharge his carotene lenses that allow him to see. Not only are we given a hero that has an actual disability that he can’t overcome, but he is deathly afraid of his disability taking over his life. This isn’t something he can just push through or learn to live with as if he didn’t have a disability at all (think Rutger Hauer’s character from Blind Fury,1989). Brody has found a way to make money helping people while using loopholes to stay out of jail.
At this point I decided that maybe this wasn’t so bad and I could forgive the cover art and silly blurb. I could also forgive the book being too long because there was just too much white space in it. At the very least I could sit back and enjoy an interesting character in whatever story he was tossed into.
It was here that Post surprises yet again. Brody leaves behind his life of punching people for money in Minnesota to help an old war buddy find his missing sister in Chicago. Here, the reader is treated with a well planned out, however not so original, conspiracy and cover up. Brody has to navigate through an unfamiliar city all the while keeping an eye on the blinking light that tells him how much time he has left to see. When it runs out he has to resort to using a device he calls ‘sonar’ that using sonar waves to enable him to see in an 8-bit fashion.
Post could have easily phoned it in at this point, allowing for deus ex machinas to go clunking around or allowing it to devolve into a shoot’em up where the hero never blinks at the lives he takes. Instead he chose to keep a human face on the hero’s actions and have plot points that didn’t cause your suspension of disbelief to give you an aneurism. Sure there is a James Bondish reveal near the end but at least there is a very good reason behind it.
I found it hard to believe that his was a first time novel. Sure, there were a few things that could have been trimmed but overall it is a very strong debut. He has created a believable protagonist that feels like a mix between John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee and Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs. Post is definitely laying the groundwork to become a major player in Sci-Fi-Thrillers. And if Hollywood is looking to exercise some options in making another action flick, I’d rather see this made into a movie that having another sequel of recycled good guys doing the same thing over and over again.
Reviewed by Adam Armstrong