Erickson’s debut novel explores personal development through love, explosions and terrorist plots.
From the book’s opening, two storylines take off: a terrorist plot to destabilize the U.S. government and a record of the key characters’ psychological development. Yet, in investigating the inner worlds, Erickson doesn’t sacrifice explosions and gunfire; instead, he peppers the action with psychological insight. Sam Coleridge (nee David Caulfield), Alexander Burns’ former therapist, tells most of the story from his point of view in the form of his confession to the police. Coleridge’s specialty is “recovering memories and treatment of patients who suffered…from post-traumatic stress disorder.” He insists that the treatments work “only if the patients really wanted…to” participate; Burns certainly wants to participate, since the recovery of his memories is crucial to his plan for revenge.
The plan seems natural from Burns’ perspective: His former employers betrayed him and, ultimately, the nation. His skills return with the memories that motivate him, and he trains his team of civilians to help, teaching them “abilities of researching, acquisitions, reconnaissance, planning, and improvising,” while he handles the business of violence. The series of events that lead to Burns’ action is, at times, unclear, partially because of the intense focus on the characters and the nonlinear narrative. Erickson competently portrays the sometimes violent tactics, though it’s clear that his real interest lies in his characters’ emotions and psychology.
Some rough plotting, but the solid action is driven by dense characters.