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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a bumbling puppy who doesn't know right from wrong, but wants to learn
Mark Allen Smith's debut thriller, The Truth Hurts... (aka, The Inquisitor, from Henry Holt and Company 2012) introduces Geiger, one of the most unique characters in fiction since the arrival of Robert Crais' Joe Pike and T. Jefferson Parker's Joe Trona. Geiger, like Pike and Trona, is a non-verbal protagonist whose to-the-point actions speak loudly about what's going on...
Published on March 3, 2012 by J. Murray

33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing But The Truth...
Having read the unusual high number of (glowing) detailed reviews (24), for a book that hadn't been released yet by Amazon, I though this was going to be a top-notch high octane thriller...especially with Nelson DeMille's respected praise, on the front and rear jacket.

Unfortunately, I came away with the feeling of reading a mediocre novel. The premise is new...
Published on April 15, 2012 by rck12

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new combo Bourne/Salander has arrived! Geiger's his name; interrogation's his game., March 12, 2012
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In his own desperate attempt to evade being abducted, tortured, and almost certainly killed, a father leaves his twelve-year-old son to face that fate instead. A shadowy group wants, at any cost, to wring out of the boy information that will lead to the capture of his dad. To do it, an expert interrogator who goes by the one name, Geiger, is contracted. But Geiger has a rule: he won't work with children. If he doesn't get the information his employers want though, he and his partner could face merciless interrogation themselves and might easily forfeit their own lives. What will he do?

Geiger "owns" as many if not more hang-ups as the famous Lisbeth Salander. He lives in a self-designed urban fortress, the beautiful, artful floors of which he painstakingly inlaid himself. He avoids human social interaction, seeming more robot-like than anything. He has no real history. His memory only goes back so far, and he is plagued with ferocious migraines. Despite his Jason Bourne-like blankness, he keeps recognizing and exploiting his strength as an interrogator who can read his subjects so well that he always knows when someone is lying or telling the truth. He makes his living terrorizing people into giving up secrets they otherwise never would.

The Inquisitor: A Novel isn't a story for the faint of heart. The sessions described can be nauseating. But in this age of increasingly "permissive" license by governments and private organizations alike regarding the limits of what can be done to a fellow human being, these scenarios don't, sadly, seem farfetched.

But what keeps one really reading Mark Allen Smith's thriller is a desire to understand more about Geiger. Why is he the way he is? The answer to that question can both strike horror and a sense of compassion in the reader. Geiger doesn't function on emotions the way most of us do, but he finds within himself a code of honor that demands of him great sacrifice to try to protect the boy he was sent to destroy.

The title Smith chose may remind the reader of Dostoyevsky's The Grand Inquisitor (from The Brothers Karamazov). That inquisitor only talked to The Captive, although he ends his long monologue by saying, "Tomorrow I am going to burn you." He is menacing, but he fails in getting The Captive to engage with him, to open up to him. So a bonfire is his only "remedy." Geiger's goal, on the other hand, is to do whatever is necessary to force a subject to speak truthfully without himself unduly maiming or, more importantly, killing the person. As such, Geiger is the more "successful" inquisitor. But perhaps Geiger's rigid psychological structure will come tumbling down as he hurtles further into the consequences of his profession. Perhaps Geiger will find a key to himself that has been missing a long time and will unlock himself. Perhaps his conscience will expand and change him as the Dostoyevsky inquisitor obviously would not be changed.

Smith keeps up the suspense and makes us hope for the survival not only of Geiger, the boy, Harry (Geiger's business partner), but others as well. However this is a thriller that also makes us think a little about what some "information gathering specialists" do. To the extent we citizens can, we should demand our government change its policies to prevent similar atrocities from actually occurring. [4.5 stars]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating protagonist. End of originality. Disappointing ending., June 4, 2012
The protagonist, Geiger, is fascinating--a fellow who found his calling as an `informational retrievalist.' He applies primarily psychological torture to people to acquire information sought by his clients. He doesn't apply his well-honed and brutal skills to children. The guy's got scruples; and he's got issues, too, that we learn about as the story progresses. When's he caught off guard, and hired to torture a 12-year-old boy, his well-protected, well-compartmentalized inner life and hidden personal history erupt into consciousness, answering questions we have about who he is and why he does what he does for a living. We come to understand his relationship to pain--why he's adept using it on others, why he tolerates well, though not necessarily thrives because of what he does, and why he has the no-child rule. The fascinating and original aspects of the story end there.

There are others who populate `The Inquisitor'--Geiger's partner, Harry, and Harry's schizophrenic sister, Lily, a misused and ill-forgotten character whose major purpose seems to be that she's in the helpful place at the right time near the story's end. She's the most interesting other person of the story. It was sad and disappointing for me seeing how her character is dealt with.
Other notable characters include Geiger's psychiatrist, the 12-year-old boy, the hired thugs and a soulless Geiger-competitor.
I cared enough about Geiger and a couple of his co-stars, and the story propels along well-enough that I wanted to get to the ending. The somewhat disappointing and less-than-meaty offerings, including an abrupt ending, bereft of explanations, (suggesting a sequel) of this debut novel left me wanting more. I give it 3 ˝ stars.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Violent and disturbing -, October 31, 2012
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This is a story about a sick man who rescues a sick boy from a group of sick men, who additionally have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time. The original sick man is then tortured by another really, really sick man. Then they all race around like the "key stone cops".

I basically read for knowledge or for entertainment. This book does not satisfy either of those. In fact it is so violent, I chose to stop reading it. Call me old fashioned, reading about all the sick ways of torturing another human being is not entertainment. The sad thing is that I think the writing is well done, but that gets lost. It makes me question why anyone would create a story around such disturbing ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably good suspense from a new master, September 27, 2012
This review is from: The Inquisitor: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
None of the rave reviews you see can give justice to this book. My favorite authors of crime/suspense include: Jeffrey Deaver, Andrew Vachss, Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Harlan Coben and, most of all, John Sandford. I say this because all fans of any of those authors should really appreciate this writer's first novel. This book equals the best of the best. It is quirky, intelligent and exciting, with fully developed characters, a lot of surprises and a lot of heart. This is a new writer who is already a master.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book with a most intriguing character, April 19, 2012
Leslie Ann Lewis (San Antonio, Texas) - See all my reviews
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It is not often that I am sucking into a book as I was with this one. After I read the first chapter, I already knew this was a story I was going to want to share, so I started over and read the first chapter to my husband. He was hooked as well, and we spent several nights captivated by this story. Video games, television, movies, were all abandoned in the desire to find out what was going to happen with Geiger. We were captivated with the greater story as well, but the inner story of Geiger was the bit with which we were most intrigued.

If you have ever seen the TV show "Lie to Me" or if you have ever watched one of those FBI dramas were they have "human lie detectors", then you have seen a portrayal of people like Geiger before. But on those shows, the talented lie detector usually works for law enforcement or at least for the "good guys". Geiger possess this talent, but he is a mercenary. He does have a moral code of his own design - no kids, no elderly, no killing. His methods are primarily psychological, but they are brutal nevertheless.

When the story begins, you want to not like Geiger. He is cold and calculating, with a past so obscure even he doesn't know about it. But it doesn't take long to realize that Geiger is searching for that lost past, albeit in a very unique way, and that while "information retrieval" may be mercenary work, Geiger is actually a highly moral person with a strict code of honor all his own. So when Geiger breaks his code and takes a job with a child, you are immediately drawn deeper and what to understand what is happening.

When we finished the book, we were both wonderfully satisfied with the conclusion. Too often with books like this, the conclusion is either too rushed or too convoluted to really allow me to feel it was complete. This conclusion was not too hurried and while it was complicated, it was not convoluted. I felt that it kept an appropriate pace and that the complicated bits were adequately explained. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan (or thinks they could become a fan) of this genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Something New And Compelling For Thriller Fans, March 6, 2012
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"The Inquisitor" is the debut novel of Mark Allen Smith that is so innovative, unique, and fresh in concept that it immediately grabbed my attention. On the surface, it is a story of a professional torturer--an information retriever, if you will--but it is also a well designed and plotted character study of a man in search of his soul and his history--a search that progresses rapidly as the novel's main plot develops. For a seemingly heartless, cold, and detached man who does evil things for money, this is truly a voyage of discovery for his past and his motivations.

Geiger is the "information retriever", a man so skilled in man's nuances and fears that he can immediately identify a lie when he hears it; indeed, this makes him a valuable asset to the mob and to the government in particular. Geiger relies heavily on psychological torture with just enough pain making to ensure his victims come to recognize fear as more potent than lying. His one unbreakable rule is to never work on children.

Geiger and his partner, Harry Boddicker (a great character study himself), find themselves tricked by a last minute switch by their client, Richard Hall, into receiving a 12 year old boy, Ezra Matheson, rather than his promised father. Geiger's unflinching rule to avoid torturing children coupled with some inner memory prompt him to rescue the boy and go on the run from the mysterious Mr. Hall, and his dangerous henchmen. Who are these desperate men and who do they represent? Why are they so desperate to unlock some secret that they believe is hidden in the mind of young Ezra? And why does Geiger continue to go deeper against character by fighting to save the boy and perhaps, unlock his own buried secrets?

This sets up a cat-and-mouse game between Hall and Geiger that soon escalates into a deadly confrontation and pursuit affecting Geiger, Harry, Harry's mentally impaired sister, and Geiger's psychiatrist, Martin Corley. In a gut wrenching scene, Geiger becomes the subject of another infamous torturer, Dalton, a man with little conscience and a love for using pain and terror to unlock a victim's secrets. Smith is masterful at bringing all these threads to a white knuckle climax that will have readers twisting in their seats while trying to maintain normal breathing patterns. It is indeed a testament to Mark Allen Smith's writing that this debut novel is so well written and so intense that readers will believe it to be the work of a long established author. Highly recommended for thriller/suspense fans and especially for those looking for something totally new and different in this genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written tour de force, March 6, 2012
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A Geiger Counter. A machine that can pick up invisible radio activity...and Geiger, our hero in Inquisitor, can pick up hidden lies that are undetectable to most people, just like picking up radioactivity. He almost seems like a machine or a robot and his neck gives an audible click when he turns his head. His eyes are glassy and never blink, his emotions do not surface. He hardly seems a human being until even his structured world begins to fall apart.

Geiger always wears black and you can easily imagine him as a latter day priest in the Spanish Inquisition. Geiger is a professional torturer who sophisticatedly uses various pain-causing techniques to render his victim shaking in fear, not from the pain, but for what will come next. His clients include Mafia bosses and other shady characters who bring Geiger a "Jones" to extract the truth from. Geiger's methods are both physical and psychological and the" Joneses" finally succumb to fear and blurt out the truth. Geiger's technique is called "information retrieval", a euphemism if there ever was one!.

Somewhere beating in his robot- like body is a heart that renders Geiger vulnerable. That heart is touched when Geiger's partner, Harry, brings in a client whose Jones is a twelve year old boy. The boy had been hidden in a trunk for delivery to Geiger and neither Harry nor Geiger realized their Jones was a child until they opened the trunk and the boy, Ezra, rolled out. But Geiger will not employ his interrogation techniques on children.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is that both the protagonists, Geiger and Harry, are likeable even when conducting their information retrieval exercises. Harry has an feeble-minded little sister whose institution fees cost him a packet and as the plot shifts when Geiger and Harry are the hunted not the hunters, Harry is saddled with the dangerous situation of having the sister, Lily, with him. Trying to elude his enemies with the highly visible, weird Lily in tow adds enormously to the scariness of the novel. But Harry treats the albatross Lily with great kindness and concern even when they are running, figuratively shackled together. Geiger shows a humane side of his character by refusing to torture the boy Ezra, and takes him under his wing to protect him.

It soon becomes apparent that Harry and Geiger's client, who brought them the boy Ezra, is desperate to get the boy back, because he might know something about a theft. The stolen object is rumored to be a De Kooning painting but the real purloined object has nothing to do with the art world. Twists and turns occur aplenty and as Geiger and the boy Ezra bond, Geiger begins to throw off the psychological barrier that he has put up in defense against memories of his own brutal father. Geiger unwinds to the point that he begins to acquire human warmth and feelings as opposed to an almost robot-like non-involvement.

At the end of the novel, you'll feel a rush of relief when Geiger's old scar-faced cat who appears throughout the story, wanders in his solitary cat's- way to Geiger's stoop, the only thing remaining of Geiger's house which had been blown up. The cat proceeds to wash his face and tidy himself up after his nightly sojourn and then... and then... Don't miss this debut novel by a terrific writer. A very enthusiastic five stars for "The Inquisitor".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ask and he shall retrieve, February 28, 2012
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Reading novels by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake) introduced me to Parker, one of the more interesting characters in crime fiction. What makes Parker stand out is that he is almost all action and no inner life; with a minimal amount of emotion, he commits his crimes almost mechanically. He is the pure professional, which is why he is interesting despite having almost no true personality.

I bring this up because of Geiger, the title character in Mark Allen Smith's debut novel, The Inquisitor. At first, Geiger seems like a different version of Parker (who has also been imitated by other authors), but looks can be deceiving. For Geiger, his seemingly cool attitude towards everything is more of a facade than reality.

Geiger is in Information Retrieval: essentially, he's a torturer for hire. He's very good at what he does, and he always gets what to the truth. Professionalism is important to Geiger, which is why he documents all his work (to improve himself), he never kills, and he doesn't torture children. This last rule is put to the test when a client brings him Ezra, the 12-year old son of a man the client is seeking. When Geiger initially balks, the client says he'll take Ezra to Dalton, Geiger's chief competitor who has a much crueler reputation.

Geiger commits a seemingly impulsive act by rescuing the boy and putting himself and his business partner in mortal danger. There's a lot of cat-and-mouse pursuit that occurs, and, as might be expected, Geiger will eventually be on the other end of information retrieval with Dalton performing the torture.

For all the discipline that Geiger tries to exert on his life, he is actually a haunted character with a childhood that is a blank to him. The little clues that start to emerge about his past help also explain his motivation in intervening in Ezra's life. Overall, it makes Geiger a fascinating character who you want to keep reading about, and that's what makes the Inquisitor stand out as a great suspense novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you hanging..., February 27, 2012
Quixote010 (columbus, ohio) - See all my reviews
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The Inquisitor starts out as one of those books that will have you sleepless at night. Geiger (no first name) is called "The Inquisitor" will all due reverance due to his ability to extract information from someone/anyone. Although he defines his work as "information retrieval" the truth of the matter is that he is a torturer... the type of individual who feels no remorse, sadness, pity or guilt for what he does. For Geiger, it's a job, and frankly to know that there are individuals with that particular talent, in and of itself, is frightening.

His success is based upon his patience, and the knowledge that the human mind can conjore far more fearful images that may, or may not, actually happen. And it is this expertise that permits him to successfully extract the information required. His only stipulation, however, is that his work not include children, a creed that is broken and defines the setting for the book. Read the review at the top and you get the geste of the story.

Overall, I thought the author does an excellent job of not overplaying Geiger and his skills. His initial details and presentation do however, indeed, make the book a thriller. Part one gives us an understanding of Geiger including his reactions to his own personal demons (both physical and emotional) that are eventually presented to us throughout the book. These evolve from his past and even Geiger is unsure where they came from, noting that he only remembers arriving in New York City with certain skills he parlays into his current occupation.

The second part of the book allows the author to expand the roles of other characters in the book, especially Harry, Geiger's associate and tech specialist. Harry's mentally ill sister, Lily, and Geiger's psychiatrist, Martin, also are more openly discussed and presented in this section.

The third part of the book, naturally, draws the conclusion and it is here where it lost its panache for me. I won't give away the ending other than to say I expected more from the villains and a more rousing ending given Geiger's specific skills and abilities to endure pain.

Overall I really liked the writing style, the premise, the characters and their development, and the flow of the book. Suffice it to say that Geiger and Harry are destined to return and I look forward to discovering more about him and his occupation even if there was just something about the ending in this particular story that left me hanging....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IR - Information Retieval, February 22, 2012
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The Gestapo Broke Bones
The Stasi Broke Souls

Now the question is: where do the Americans fit in?
Truly, I don't like writing these words, but in fact, some Americans are proud to employ the techniques of torture in today's ubiquitous war on terror. In fact, the term is being redefined on the fly, dependent on which way the wind blows.
In this dizzying, dazzling, heart-quickening novel, the pages display a crushing reality behind the headlines. The author knows the landscape of betrayal intimately. So a fine a line, between truth and lies, does the story tread, that the reader can't help but know, that he or she, is indeed, in the hands of a master craftman.
The story revolves around Geiger. He has chosen his name because it has balance. So practised is he in his craft of lies/truth - that he can know it instantly. He does not want death, if at all possible, for his client's victim. He has become legend in this world of torture.
His partner is Harry Boddicker, ex-alcholic and very adept at various skills required in organizing the business end of their operation.
Geiger has rules which he will not step-on, under any circumstances. At the top of that very short list is working on a child. But when Murphy's Law delivers a young boy, Geiger is going to start breaking his own rules. His enigmatic past is going to be revealed, not only to him, but at the same time, to the reader.
In Geiger's business there are numerous applications of pain specific scenarios-primarily physical, psychic, and emotional pain. In those categories are many subcategories. In physical, for instance, there is audio, pressure, penetration, slicing of flesh, acupuncture, needles, manipulation of joints, applications of intense heat and cold, forced ingestion of liquids, and much, much more.
The author's writing was a pleasure/Outside, the sun was a simmering white wafer turning the city into a skillet.
Geiger was an apostle, a slave to specifics. He was constantly breaking down, distilling, and defining parts of the whole, because in IR-information retrieval-the details were crucial. There were patterns, cycles, behavioral refrains.
The client presented him with one of three basic scenarios: theft, betrayal, and need. The clients came from the private sector, the corporate world, organized crime, and government.
As the character of Geiger and Harry are drawn, the reader will not only become better aware of them, but also come to care for them. These two are probingly sketched with weight, that is so enriching and so finely engraved, that the reader is reluctant to let them go, as the last pages spend-away.
The author, through Corley, Geiger's psychiatrist writes/Corley found his new patient to be an intriguing contradiction, the equivalent of an intelligent stone. Or/For weeks, Corely had sensed a shifting of emotional plates in Geiger, and an approaching event. He didn't think the man had an inkling that the dream was proof of defended structures giving way within him. Or in the author's description of Harry/Loss had become a sidekick; it was always near, shambling along a fewsteps behind him. The thought of finially bidding it good-byewas streching Harry's battered lips into a smile across broken broken teeth...
The writing is a pleasure, the story is very precient and important. The reader will come out of this story with a better understanding of some of what lies behind the worldwide headlines of today.

A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.
Albert Einstein

P.S. Throughout history, we could never actually coerce someone to reveal information. Torture doesn't work that, well, persuasion doesn't work that well...the right to keep one's thoughts locked up in their brain is among the most fundamental roghts being human.

Until now/
This technology is not just in its testing phase in laboratories at Universities. A company called No lie MRI advertises their services using fMRI which they say provides unbiased methods for detection of deception and other information stored in the brain./There is also talk of a device that can potentially shine a beam of light or radio waves onto a person's head that can detect internal brainwaves as a result./A woman in India was convicted on murder in 2008 because of a brain scan./The University of California is investigating synthetic telepathy which entails creating a device that can detect brain waves that have speech encoded into them in order to literally read the mind of that person using it to determine exactly what they are thinking.

All the above was in:
Big Brother The Orwellian Nightmare Come True by Mark Dice.
It is a nonfiction work of 2011
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The Inquisitor: A Novel
The Inquisitor: A Novel by Mark Allen Smith
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