Friday, February 23, 2007

The Straw Men Trilogy - Michael Marshall

The first book in Michael Marshall's Straw Men trilogy is called,aptly "The Straw Men". While never as great as I hoped it would be it's a great idea with some solid writing. Great, crazy plots, towering demonic villains and dark secrets in the background that aren't too easy to figure out are all in there.

The first book opens with a series of seemingly random acts of violence: mass murders in a fast food joint, girls abducted from the street and car crashes. We promptly meet our protagonists; a cop who retired when his own daughter was abducted several years before the novel's opening, a CIA employee who's parents die in a that car crash and LAPD detective. Within pages we are shown connections and intimations of motives linking the events and characters.

In the ancient past, all humanity was given to indulging its violent desires. There was no moral imperative to rein in such impulses. Then came the infection. Most of humanity was infected with a virus that encourage socialization, urbanization and peaceful coexistence.

The Staw Men are those who are uninfected and are manipulating world events for their own ends. What those ends are and how they'll be achieved are the mystery that occupy our heroes.

The books weave in classic conspiracy theories and urban legends as well as all the more typical serial killer trappings. Unlike most of the sub-Red Dragon crap being churned out these days, Marshall takes his plot and characters to levels of almost high camp and ultra-violence that overcome the inherent unbelievabilty of the material. Instead of suffering from trying to present essentially comic book materials seriously, "the Straw Men" revels in its pulpishness. Find these books and give 'em a whirl.

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