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Book review: <i>Panic</i> by Jeff Abbott

the cover of the book

Feeling like you just haven't had enough spy/CIA conspiracy in your life lately? Lacking in running, gun fights, car chases, and general confusion and accusations about the CIA? Might be time to read Panic...

The story

Evan Casher's life is going pretty well. He's a successful film maker, editing a new documentary, with a couple more in the pipeline. He's crazy in love. And on the morning he recieves a frightened phonecall from his mother begging him to come home to see her, he has absolutely no idea that his life is about to turn on its head.

When he arrives at his mother's house, he finds her, strangled to death, on the floor. Her killers attack him and string him up, but he is saved by a stranger. The police arrive to take him down the station, but he is kidnapped by his rescuer.

Suddenly, Evan is thrown into a world of spies, intrigue, and subterfuge. Everybody wants him and the files on his computer that his mother sent him, but Evan isn't interested in sticking around and being told things about his parents... who were they? Why did they have these files? Where is his father? Evan has to get creative, and he's not interested in trusting anyone. He needs to catch his mother's killer, find his father, keep his girlfriend, work out who he and his parents really are and try not to get double crossed or killed. All in a week.

The style

We all know that I'm a fan of the crime genre; it's like the guilty pleasure of a student of English Literature I guess. Sure, the bulk of it's trashy, but who doesn't need a little trash now and then? That said, Panic certainly isn't a bad example of the genre. Abbott has a fast, loose writing style that works really nicely. He manages to avoid sounding cliched, in fact, there were a couple of moments in the story where I actively appreciated certain descriptive phrases, or chuckled a little. Which is impressive, really.

The storyline is pretty indepth, and Abbott certainly didn't seem to want the reader thinking they knew what was going on; the entire story was twist central. This got a bit tired after a while; the development could have been quicker and the running and avoiding and wrapping up would have been sufficient without it. The beginning was a bit tiresome with the whole "the reader and Evan don't know what's going on" scenario going on; sometimes the reader likes to know what's going on a little. But all in all, decent. It actually reminded me of The Firm with all the twists and the fast pace, but it was better written and didn't have lawyers. And lots of other things... Okay, it's nothing like The Firm. But it was a vibe I got, I guess.

All in all, not a bad read. You could do a lot worse. On the other hand, it was pretty pulpy, and I'm not sure I'll remember it in a month. But sometimes, that's just the kind of thing you're after.

Who is this book for?

People looking for a fun, spy/crime pulp read. Pretty good for holidays, plane or train travel, lunch breaks... seriously, you could do a lot worse.

In short

Title: Panic
Author: Jeff Abbott
Publisher: Sphere
ISBN: 0751538311
Year published: 2006
Pages: 405
Genre(s): Spy fiction
Review Type: