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BOTTOM LINE: This is a damn fun book that will make you gasp, laugh, bite your nails to the nubs, and cheer out loud.
This is a SPOILER-FREE review that will focus on my impressions as a reader, with little to no references to the brilliant plot points of the novel, which can be found in the book description above. To reveal anything further would be a disservice to both you, the potential reader, and the author of this absolutely dynamic adventure.
OVERVIEW Simply put, this novel is at once everything you could hope for from a historical thriller, and everything you've come to expect from a Matthew Corbett mystery. From the quite literal opening salvo that propels our young "problem solver" into his latest escapade, to the final sigh of relief that Matthew has once again narrowly escaped the jaws of death, the reader is plunged into an adventure filled-to-bursting with nefarious plots and international intrigue, populated by a cast of superbly developed characters who offer Matthew unflagging friendship, unmitigated evil, and sometimes both.
The novel itself is a hybrid tale somewhere between the action-packed cat-and-mouse game that filled the pages of Mister Slaughter and the layer-upon-layer mystery of The Queen of Bedlam. Whereas Mister Slaughter focused on the brute mayhem and violence that could be inflicted upon Corbett's physical person in his pursuit to uncover the evils of the world around him, Providence Rider takes a backdoor approach in which Professor Fell wages psychological warfare on Corbett in order to first get the young man to acquiesce to his demands, and then to further sink his teeth into Matthew's psyche as Corbett is exposed to the ruthless horrors of Fell's inner circle of villains.Read more ›
The Providence Rider was one of my three most anticipated novels of the year, and I was thrown off guard when it arrived nearly a month early while I was in the middle of reading the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Only through extreme willpower, did I slog through Monte Cristo before eagerly devouring the latest installment of Matthew Corbett.
It's by far the shortest of the four novels, but it packs a walloping punch, hooks you from the opening, and doesn't let up until you read the final page.
I would highly recommend reading the first three novels of McCammon's epic series before tackling The Providence Rider, but you could follow this tale without the first three novels. You'll just miss out on some salient details and a pretty large number of subtle nods to previous events and characters. Still McCammon does pretty well in providing previous key plot points in high-level detail.
The novel starts out in New York with Matthew Corbett still reeling from his brutal adventure against Tyranthus Slaughter and Lyra Sutch. Against this backdrop, Matthew is quite reluctant to attend a dinner invitation extended by an emissary of the infamous Professor Fell. Fell, however, is not one to take No for an answer. Soon, explosions begin rocking buildings around the city and promise to continue to do so until Matthew takes Professor Fell up on that meeting.
Fell is looking for Matthew to be a Providence Rider, someone who can ride in and deliver a much-needed boon to the Professor. The setting for this adventure, however, is far from New York. Instead Matthew must travel to the mysterious Pendulum Island where the criminal Master Bosses of Professor Fell's empire are gathered for a meeting.Read more ›
Matthew Corbett, professional problem solver, is a fine fellow to follow. His first two appearances in this (so far) four book series were great history/mystery fiction. The third entry, as with this one, lose me when Matthew strays too far from old New York. McCammon deftly uses the town to great advantage as a backdrop and semi-character so it is shame to leave it. Also in The Providence Rider we get to know Corbett's Moriarty, the criminal grand master, Professor Fell. But he is all too omnipotent and his looming presence has puffed up the series so much that it has lost is provincial charm. Without a doubt, colourful characters are in abundant supply with fun Dickens' like names. The action suffers from repetition. The dialogue has some stand-out bon mots but overall tends to drag. Everything picks up when Matthew's partner Hudson Greathouse appears (note to Mr. McCammon). I remain faithful but also hopeful that the author will shrink the canvas but remain liberal with the brushstrokes.
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This is the latest installment in the Mathew Corbett series. In this novel we meet Matthew's nemesis, Professor Fell. I love how Matthew is growing throughout the series. At first in "Speaks the Nightbird" Matthew is uncertain and a bit naive. As the series continues, he is learning and becoming more and more sure of himself. As he takes part in the scarier and darker side of life,as in "Mister Slaughter" he becomes more hardened, more worldly. Now in his latest, Matthew is reminding me of that old Nietzsche quote: "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." Will Matthew survive this look into the abyss? You will have to read it to find out!
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Robert McCammon is the New York Times bestselling author of nineteen novels, including the award-winning BOY'S LIFE and SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD. There are more than four million copies of his books in print. His latest novel, THE RIVER OF SOULS, is the fifth book in the Matthew Corbett series. It is available now from Subterranean Press in both trade hardcover and Kindle formats.
His next novel, THE BORDER, is SF/horror. It will be published in May 2015 by Subterranean Press. Later in 2015: a limited edition of BLUE WORLD and trade paperback editions of BLUE WORLD, THEY THIRST, and THE HUNTER FROM THE WOODS, as well as I TRAVEL BY NIGHT 2: LAST TRAIN FROM PERDITION.
Visit his websites: www.robertmccammon.com and www.matthewcorbettsworld.com