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And Then She Was Gone (The Clarke Lantham Mysteries) Paperback – December 7, 2010
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
"J. Daniel Sawyer gives us a PI for the new millennium, and a mystery so dark and complex you could lose a molar biting into it." --Seth Harwood, author of Young Junius
"...witty and pithy, with a storyline that keeps you engaged...one of the top reads of 2010..." --MotherLode Book Reviews
"...the parody of noir that noir didn't see coming...And Then She Was Gone is full of snappy one-liners I'm dying to quote" --Gail Carriger, New York Times Bestselling Author of Soulless
"...a strangely beautiful noir for the future. And Then She Was Gone has all the history of the genre...packed with the trademark Sawyer intelligence." Philippa Ballantine, author of Geist and Phoenix Rising
About the Author
J. Daniel Sawyer is a hat-wearing, obsessive-compulsive nutcase attempting to write his way out of the loony bin. He's the author of numerous fiction podcasts including Sculpting God, Down From Ten, and The Antithesis Progression (which earned him a spot as a 2009 Parsec Finalist). Lacking in personal qualities things that make for respectable character (such as the ability to sit still and shut up), he's forced to channel his lack of decorum into the fields of photography, a/v production, and writing for outfits like LinuxJournal and the occasional speculative fiction anthology. When not working on his new secret steampunk fantasy adventure or getting into other mischief, he can be heard hosting the skeptical salon The Polyschizmatic Reprobates Hour, and as the narrator of Free Will, book two of The Antithesis Progression, both available through http://www.jdsawyer.net.
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Top customer reviews
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The mystery du jour spins around a decidedly science-fictional Macguffin, and I'm curious to discover if the rest of the series likewise blends genres. That's a gamble I particularly appreciate, but it might confuse or put off some die-hard noir fans. Give it a chance... what Sawyer has done is, in that regard, interesting.
The main thing that kept me from rating this book higher is just as likely an objective matter of taste as a subjective issue, so your mileage may vary. It's this: I like a protagonist to change in some way from the beginning of the book to the end. Clarke Lantham is, near as I could tell, exactly the same person he was at the beginning of the book. Because of his static nature, I never felt particularly invested in him. In a book like this, a character's physical peril is a given, as is, due to the first-person narration, his survival. Since that's the case, I would have loved to have been concerned about the detective's inner life, but that just wasn't there for me.
Still, for the mystery itself and the interesting science fiction flavor, I'd say this is worth a read. It's the first in a series, so it may be enough to get you hooked!
I was not disappointed.
The pace is fast but not frenzied, characters are real and likable, but not saccharine, and for someone who knows Northern California at all, the local references were a treat, without feeling totally gratuitous.
The main character, Clarke Lantham, is the kind of Private Investigator that I'd like to buy a beer and hang at a pub with, just watching people and commenting on them. No super-cop, or disgruntled curmudgeon, he's just a guy doing a job that he happens to be really good at, with the career-unfortunate character flaw of giving a damn about his fellow humans - at least those worth caring about.
A little Marlowe, a little Magnum P.I., and a lot of fun.
And Then She Was Gone reads most of the way through like the influences it wears on its sleeve -- great old hard-boiled detective fiction the likes of Hammett and Chandler -- with just hints that there's something much stranger than a kidnapping/murder/20th century-style crime polot going on, until wow, bang, surprise, there's a dash of techno-thriller thrown in, like a dash of tabasco on a nice helping of perfectly scrambled eggs.
In Clarke Lantham, Sawyer has created the perfect 21st century counterpart to Sam Spade et al: an ex-cop, clasically trained in the detective arts but technically savvy to the hilt. From GPS tracking to data mining, Clarke is a stranger to no tool that could be used to solve his cases. Far from perfect, though, he has to roll with a lot of punches taken and live with a lot of mistakes made.
The language, too, fits right in the good old San Fran crime tradition, taut and witty and occasionally extraordinarily funny ("all shorts and no scrotum" "Coincidence is a hemorrhoid on the ass of reality"). Lantham is the kind of guy you want to knock back a few good strong drinks with, but you might end up snorting some scotch up your nose while you listen to him spin his yarns.
I look forward to more of them!
Unfortunately, good noir is not James Patterson. I'm not saying Mr. Patterson can't write a decent mystery, but good noir is not simply a murder mystery.
Sam Spade is noir. Philip Marlow is noir. And now Clarke Latham is noir.
To be a noir detective, you need to have a human failing. Clarke has several. However, underneath he believes in people and that core shines through.
I really enjoyed Clarke Latham and And Then She was Gone. I am looking forward to more in the series. Mr. Sawyer kept the pace moving at a comfortable level and let the science come through in a non threatening way.
If you're a fan of good writing, Mr. Sawyer has something for you. Go ahead. Try it. You'll be glad you did.