Saturday, June 13, 2009

FIRST THE DEAD by Tim Downs

THE SUMMARY: In book three of the “Bug Man” novels, Nick Polchak, a forensic entomologist (a North Carolina professor who studies the bugs that feed on dead bodies) reports for duty in New Orleans hours before Hurricane Katrina comes ashore. Originally volunteering as part of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, Nick is frustrated to learn that he’s assigned to rescue “the living” from roofs and attics rather than searching for the dead. “First the living” he’s ordered. However, Nick soon realizes that the dead have a lot to tell about the living because a killer is using the hurricane to cover up his murders. Only Nick and his coke-bottle glasses can see the value of the bugs—and the truth.

THE MESSAGE: Follow the truth wherever it may lead. Also, a father is a powerful role model in the life of a boy.

THE PRESENTATION: Nick is a quirky, loveable character fast with the sarcasim and short on friendship. Long ago he stopped viewing himself as human, finding that he relates more to the insects that he studies. Author Tim Downs shows the depth of his research in his writing, although a few times he loses the story in the details.

FINAL THOUGHTS: A fun, suspenseful story that makes for great summer reading. I enjoy the Bug Man novels, not so much for their underlying message but because they are captivating and easy reading that makes me laugh and keep turning the pages. Tim Downs knows how to write suspenseful, original stories, and his character Nick Polchak is one of the most memorable and unique heroes I've ever come across.

THE RECOMMENDATION: 3.5 out of 5

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