Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: Mercury Rises by Robert Kroese

Mercury Rises
Author: Robert Kroese
Publication: AmazonEncore (October 18, 2011)

Description: Jaded religion reporter Christine Temetri and Mercury, a renegade angel, have just thwarted two diabolical plots to destroy the world. But their work isn’t finished yet: mysterious powers outranking even the Heavenly bureaucracy seem intent on keeping the Apocalypse on track. While the world is plagued by natural disasters and nations prepare for war, crazed billionaire Horace Finch plots to use a secret device hidden beneath the African desert to discover the deepest secrets of the Universe—even if he has to destroy the Universe to do it. Meanwhile, unassuming FBI investigator Jacob Slater tries in vain to find a rational explanation for the mysterious destruction of downtown Anaheim—a quest that ultimately brings him to Kenya, where he meets Christine and Mercury. Together, the three must stop Finch from activating the device and tearing reality to pieces. Uproarious and wildly entertaining, Mercury Rises proves that the devil is in the details!

My Thoughts: This was an interesting sort of story. I knew when I accepted the book for review that it was the second in the series and was told that it could stand alone. I really felt that I was missing something by not reading book one in the series because I didn't really find out very much about Mercury or Christine and felt that there was a lot of backstory that would have made this a richer reading experience. 

The tone of the story is deeply ironic. I was told that it was funny but "funny" is so subjective. I didn't find it funny. To me it was more mildly amusing than laugh-out-loud funny. I especially enjoyed the footnotes which often went off on tangents and seldom illuminated the passage they were supposed to.

The story essentially weaves the stories of Eddie Pratt - demon and would-be author, Jacob Slater - FBI explosions expert and a sufferer of something in the Asperger's spectrum, Mercury - low-level and seemingly amoral angel, and Christine - former reporter for a religious publication who tries to inject some of the human point of view to the situation. The basic plot seems to be thwarting whoever it is who is trying to destroy the Earth. 

The story jumps around in time from 2000 BC in Babylonia to the present day in Anaheim, California and somewhere in rural Kenya. The apparent villains are Tiamat - another low-level angel but with a strong desire to rule the world, Lucifer who apparently figured prominently in the first book, and crazed billionaire Horace Finch. I say apparently because it is not altogether clear to me who is was who was actually behind the plan to destroy the Earth or even if the plan really was to destroy the Earth. This story had layers on layers of conspiracy and each of the characters only sees a piece of the puzzle.

The character I liked the most was Jacob Slater. I identified with his frustration at not being able to understand what caused the Anaheim Event and his phlegmatic acceptance of his kidnapping. His bit of the story did cause a few small chuckles.

This is a story for those who like absurdity and some social commentary in their fiction. It is designed for those with a quirky sense of humor. I liked the style of the book and found the prose very readable.  

Favorite Quote (This one seems really representative of the tone of the book.):
Israel's war with Syria still dragged on, and some hawks in Congress were already hinting that Syria "couldn't be allowed to use an Anaheim-type device on Israel." This was such an absurd assertion that it was virtually impossible to argue against. In addition to the fact that no one had any idea what type of device (if any) had been used at Anaheim and that there was no reason to suspect the Syrians of being involved, it was unclear how anyone could stop them from using such a device if they did have one. Furthermore, if they did have another device, why hadn't they used it already to wipe out Tel Aviv? And for that matter, why had they used it on Anaheim, a city that most scholars agree is not one of the major points of contention in the on-going Arab-Israeli conflict? Still, the Hawks urged preemptive action due to the "scale of the threat," an argument that boiled down to the notion that it was better to be wrong than dead. 
I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion. You can get it here at Amazon.

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