I am so there.
My review of Tom Pawlik’s Beckon will diverge a bit from my usual pattern. This is partly because my daughter graduated from high school yesterday, and I’ve been immersed in the accompanying festivities, so I’m still reading the book. Another reason is that the story lends itself to a three-part review, being told from the perspective of three different protagonists, whose stories converge at the end.
Predictability is also boring, so I like to mix things up now and again.
To that end, we’ll start things off with a look at the first part of Beckon, which concerns one Jack Kendrick. Jack’s father, David, an anthropologist, vanished some years earlier while investigating a legendary pre-Columbian civilization in the mountains of Wyoming, and his colleagues were quick to dismiss his theories as so much pixie dust. Jack, meanwhile, has become an anthropologist himself in the hopes of vindicating his father’s reputation, but has given up hope of finding David, alive or dead—until he discovers a piece of evidence that rekindles his hope. He travels to Wyoming, enlisting a scientist friend and a guide from the local Caieche Indian tribe to help him investigate a remote cavern that might be connected to his father’s disappearance.
He finds a lot more than he bargained for. After a harrowing adventure, Jack wanders into the nearby town of Beckon, whose citizens seem friendly enough until he begins to share the details of his little expedition. At this point, Jack realizes he’s in even more trouble than he thought.
And then…fade to black, and it’s off to the next protagonist. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that.
Pawlik doesn’t waste much time with preliminaries. He sets the stage quickly with the mystery of David Hendrick’s vanishing, hands Jack an enigmatic clue, and sends him, and us, off to Wyoming for a little extreme spelunking.
Really extreme spelunking.
There are some very strong echoes of Stephen King here, what with Native American legends, ancient terrors lurking in dark, dank caverns, and a firm reminder that some forgotten towns are forgotten purposely, for reasons we’re better off not knowing.
Beckon makes a good first impression. Pawlik’s direct, unadorned style yields a quick and easy read, though I think there was room to build up a little more suspense—the pacing of the first section felt a bit like one of the Indiana Jones movies, plunging from hazard to hazard with little time for reflection. Or perhaps I was just reading too fast. It’s fun, though, and I expect most readers will be quickly hooked.
I was unable to find a reference for a tribe called the Caieche. It may simply be obscure. If not, I’m curious about why Pawlik chose to go with a fictional Native American community. He may have figured it was better not to saddle a real tribe with fictional lore. Anyhow, if Tom’s looking in on the Tour, I’d be interested to hear about his thought process for this aspect of the story.
Tiny Spoiler Zone Ahead
The supporting cast takes a pretty harsh beating right out of the gate, but I’ve not seen a body yet, so I won’t jump to conclusions about that issue, especially given the book’s subtitle: “Come. And Live Forever.”
End Tiny Spoiler Zone, and Today’s Review.
Be sure to check out the other fine sites on this month’s CSFF Blog Tour:
Purchase Beckon – http://www.amazon.com/Beckon-Tom-Pawlik/dp/1414338732/ Tom Pawlik’s Web site – http://www.tompawlik.com/
Tom Pawlik’s Blog – http://tompawlik.blogspot.com/
Tom Pawlik’s Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tom-Pawlik/42692434035
Author Twitter account – https://twitter.com/#!/TomPawlik
(Wow, this guy is seriously networked)
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Rebecca LuElla Miller
>>This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<