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Corpse in Armor Paperback – March 18, 2010
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That's especially important in an action-oriented thriller. Martin really pulls it off in this book. You get pulled in quickly, the story move briskly, and the layers of the plot unfold rapidly and unpredictably. The main character is engaging and you'll root for her (despite the fact that she's a lawyer).
Are there powerful villains in the real world like the ones in this book? I would like to think there are not, but they are plausible enough to make we worry that such people do indeed exist.
The difference between this and Clancy, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor type novels is that this feels more intelligent. It is vastly less expository, lacking long passages about weapons, calibers, feet per second, or how anything military works and the training involved. McPhillips wastes no time on filler or extraneous detail in order to pad the pages. He throws you in the back seat of his flying car and you're off.
The novel has numerous passing observations about society, civilization, corruption, and the moral order in no way didactic, but satisfying as when Mara Rains notes how the thing that most troubled her about people and daily life was the ambient noise of general corruption permeating things day to day, and that seemed most of what was wrong with the world, that endlessly frustrating encounter with stupidly self-absorbed, self-interested people with their active cupidity and indifference to the Good. She thought that was the error in our times until she was face to face with unalloyed, rational and yet insane evil.
The kind of evil that snatches children, outfits them as suicide bombers and sends them off to die blowing up innocent passersby; the kind of evil that takes glee in the destruction of a good moral order in order to enslave others in their will to power; the kind of pyschopathic and malignant narcissism we see in the radical Left and traitorous moles who infiltrate government, work for foreign agencies and nations.
McPhillips illustrates the sick, vain, and murderous enemies of natural law and the moral order for the sake of lunatic fantasies, and he does it sharply -- basing his characters on the reality anyone with sense sees around us.
The radical Left paid for and employed by foreign nations and agencies? Check. George Soros billionaires using wealth acquired through free markets to destroy free markets, personal property, and liberty? Check. Moles inside the highest branches of government working for our greatest enemies? Check. The success of Leftist propaganda until ordinary people mouth its slogans and superficial complaints and notions? Check.
And on it goes, but never gets in the way except to illustrate the implacable reality of the endless war of generally decent people trying to hold the ravenous wolves at bay; war that Herodotus called, `the father of us all'.
It is not that the good guys are so good, but that the evil they (we) face is so utterly devoid of any humanity. McPhillips makes these truths both apparent and entertaining in a slightly more compelling fashion, to my mind. It's done swiftly, concisely, clearly, and more intelligently than the other action thrillers I've read and tired of. I can't wait for this author's next novel. I'm hoping he's got half a dozen more in him. I expect that if he does write another, it's going to a bit different than this one; written with even more confidence, verve, authority, and wit.
It's a shame that this book hasn't been picked up to be scripted into one of those eight episode dramas that companies like HBO do so well from time to time. The unfolding of this story, the escalating of threat, the gradual clearing of mist to expose the disease ridden vermin lying in wait to poison and destroy unwary souls, well, Corpse in Armor (great title!) works. It exposes evil in a way I find rare in this kind of fiction. It simply has more weight and clarity, it seems to me.
Thus, it is both heartbreaking and wildly exciting to encounter a self-published writer who deserves to be widely read, and to have a hand in publicizing his achievement:
"Can you tell me anything, Professor," Ryan asked, "about rogue KGB factions surviving the Soviet collapse?
"I can tell you two things," Wolfe said. "First, the KGB was for a long time in business for itself, before the collapse. Second, the KGB knew for twenty years that the collapse was coming and had long prepared for the transition to, what should I call it, the private sector."
"Where do they operate out of?" Ryan asked.
"Everywhere," Wolfe said. "They were everywhere and they stayed everywhere. Finding work is easy for them. When they can't find work, they make work. The cells are now autonomous, but they of course know each other. It's a brotherhood, a network. Dying out in some places, getting stronger in others, especially in the homeland."
"Russia?" Ryan asked.
"Yes, indeed. Look who's in charge there."
And a bit later in the same exchange:
"Have you pressed your case or published anything about this?" Ryan asked.
"If I did that," Wolfe said, "I would be pigeonholed as a Cold War obsessive."
"But it's your area of expertise," Ryan said.
"Ironies abound," Wolfe said. "I am the expert until I offer my conclusions. Then I'm still fighting the Cold War."
The book, probably the best thriller I've ever read, is Corpse In Armor, by Martin McPhillips.
Honestly, seriously, Tom Clancy and Larry Bond would give their souls to write something this good. I'll go further: If I were still charging a price for my work, and a prospective customer were to ask me whether he should spend his valuta on one of my books or on Corpse In Armor, I'd send him and his money to McPhillips's book without a second thought.
By agreeing to assist a young actress who claims to be in fear of her life, protagonist Mara Rains, a Manhattan lawyer, is drawn into a world of murder, terrorism, and supranational intrigue, in which no player can be trusted ab initio and altitude of position guarantees nothing. At first in self-defense, later from a steadily awakening patriotism, she becomes part of an organization that exists to protect Americans from a violent shadow world to which governments cannot admit. Its agents operate outside of all legal sanction; they must live, work, and die without ever being recognized for what they are.
This novel is unflinching about right and wrong, about love of country and the nature of justice, about our preference for comforting fictions over harsh truths, and about the perfidies of the highly placed. Among its other excellences, it features the manliest characters and the most crackling, piercing dialogue to be found in fiction of any description. The only criticism I can make of it is that it contains a few misspellings and errors in punctuation.
Corpse In Armor, self-published by Martin McPhillips. Highly recommended!
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He laughed. "No, you're on the team," he said.
"The team doesn't exist," I said.
"That's right," he said.Read more
unfolds into a well-crafted tale of murder, intrigue and...Read more