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All Out Action
on 26 July 2011
I have noticed an interesting trend over the last couple of years. When it comes to the thriller genre there is a definite lean toward including more fantastical elements in novels. Now it is true to say that some purists may find this cross-pollination unwelcome. I, for one, totally disagree with that. This change appears to have reinvigorated the genre and opened up whole new avenues of storytelling.
Pulse is a great example of this cross over writing. The novel blends together the high levels of action you would expect to find in a Hollywood blockbuster with some masterfully executed science fiction.
I think it is fair to say that the best fiction has its basis in fact. To take something as complex as the regenerative capabilities of a salamander and use that as the jumping off point for a story that spans thousands of years and multiple continents is no mean feat. There are also some wonderfully outlandish moments that made me love the book even more. At one point there is a pitched battle featuring a volcano and a submarine. This added a nice, almost vintage, James Bond touch to proceedings and raised a wry smile.
The different members that make up the Chess Team are a great group of characters. Up front there is the enigmatic Deep Blue, and the heroic leader, King. Then follows the hard as nails Queen, and the brooding giant Bishop. Then at the rear the deadly Knight, and sardonic Rook. I defy anyone to read this novel and not have a favourite member of the team by the time you have finished. All of the team bring their own unique strengths to their mission. If I was forced to choose I would have to pick Bishop as a personal character highlight. The scenes involving him later in the novel are driven by pure adrenaline and this is coming from a novel where the action is non-stop from page one. Bishop is fuelled by a towering rage that he struggles to control. The events of the novel only make this situation worse and it is engrossing to watch his battles, both internal and external, as they escalate.
Sometimes I think that we are a bit hard done by in the United Kingdom when it comes to getting access to great thriller fiction. Pulse has been available in the UK since April 2010 yet the only reason I learned of it was via the author's Twitter account. This book deserves a much wider circulation than it has currently. It is a great deal of fun and held my attention from cover to cover.
The good news is that there are already other Chess Team novels published, and I've already ordered the sequel, Instinct, based on how much fun I had with Pulse. It is worth pointing out however that, with the exception of Amazon UK, they do seem to be a bit tricky to come by in Britain. I do urge you to seek out his work however. Robinson has created a fantastically entertaining on-going series here and should be included right up there with the likes of Jonathan Maberry and James Rollins as prime examples of the modern thriller genre.