Monday, March 24, 2014

Author Spotlight: Blake Crouch

I was remiss in posting an “author spotlight” post during the month of February, but some recent bit of news (more on that below) nudged me in the direction of the next author that I wanted to share with you all, the great Blake Crouch. Crouch writes thrillers, touched with elements of horror and the paranormal that are jaw-clenching, stomach dropping roller coaster ride-like experiences that have you white knuckled from start to finish but like a great amusement ride when you reach the last page, you can’t wait to get back on again. In discussing his writing Crouch said, “The common thread running through my writing is that I explore characters who are at the end of their rope, because that’s where interesting things begin to happen.”

I found Blake Crouch by pure happenstance back in 2012. Looking for a great (and cheap) book on my Kindle I struck gold when I found Run, my first Crouch novel, which to quote my own words from 2012 was “a spine-tingling, edge of your seat, thrill ride from start to finish.” I loved (!!) Run and feel it's the epitome of a great thriller in every way, from its non-stop action, to compelling plot, to unexpected twists and turns, but what raised it to an even higher caliber in my estimation was its human story highlighting the bonds of love and family and the strength of the human spirit.

Run was followed by Pines which utterly blew my mind and in a roundabout way prompted me to right this post (more below); a trippy story reminiscent of Shutter Island, where you don’t know what and who to believe from page to page and at the end you’re left utterly agog that this little bit of brilliance came from someone’s imagination. Crouch acknowledged in the book’s afterword that the book was inspired by Twin Peaks and let me tell you he successfully (and resoundingly) pays homage to that classic by delivering a similarly creepy and enthralling story that retains its humanity through a great lead character in Ethan, who offers readers an emotional look at a brave man desperate to make his way back home to his family. (By the way, there is a second in the Wayward Pines series titled Wayward which unfortunately I can’t comment on because I haven’t read it yet – though I plan on correcting that very soon.)

The last Crouch novel I read was Snowbound, yet another suspenseful story filled with unexpected plot twists and a scare or two for good measure. Each novel is a quick read (or at least quick for me because I can never put them down) that captures your imagination. It is no surprise that David Morrell, the great author of First Blood and Murder as a Fine Art (my 2013 favorite), fittingly said “Blake Crouch is the most exciting new thriller writer I've read in years.”

Run. 5 D A Y S A G O...A rash of bizarre murders swept the country…Senseless. Brutal. Seemingly unconnected. A cop walked into a nursing home and unloaded his weapons on elderly and staff alike. A mass of school shootings. Prison riots of unprecedented brutality. Mind-boggling acts of violence in every state. 4 D A Y S A G O...The murders increased ten-fold…3 D A Y S A G O...The President addressed the nation and begged for calm and peace…2 D A Y S A G O...The killers began to mobilize…Y E S T E R D A Y...All the power went out…T O N I G H T...They’re reading the names of those to be killed on the Emergency Broadcast System. You are listening over the battery-powered radio on your kitchen table, and they’ve just read yours. Your name is Jack Colclough. You have a wife, a daughter, and a young son. You live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. People are coming to your house to kill you and your family. You don’t know why, but you don’t have time to think about that any more. You only have time to….R U N.

Pines. Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.

Snowbound. For Will Innis and his daughter, Devlin, the loss was catastrophic. Every day for the past five years, they wonder where she is, if she is—Will’s wife, Devlin’s mother—because Rachael Innis vanished one night during an electrical storm on a lonely desert highway, and suspected of her death, Will took his daughter and fled. Now, Will and Devlin live under different names in another town, having carved out a new life for themselves as they struggle to maintain some semblance of a family. When one night, a beautiful, hard-edged FBI agent appears on their doorstep, they fear the worst, but she hasn’t come to arrest Will. “I know you’re innocent,” she tells him, “because Rachael wasn’t the first…or the last.” Desperate for answers, Will and Devlin embark on a terrifying journey that spans four thousand miles from the desert southwest to the wilds of Alaska, heading unaware into the heart of a nightmare, because the truth is infinitely worse than they ever imagined.

You can't go wrong with any one of these three great books from this brilliant author, but now without further ado, the why behind what prompted this post…well, it turns out that…drumroll please…Pines (actually the Wayward Pines series) is being made into a FOX TV miniseries (woo-hoo!) airing sometime this year; brought to life by none other than M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs”); Wayward Pines will feature a stellar cast including Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, Toby Jones, and Juliette Lewis. Stay tuned to FOX for a premiere date.