TIGERMAN by Nick Harkaway (5 out of 5)
There are a lot of good books being released tomorrow; July 29, 2014. Out of all of those titles that I have had the pleasure of reading before they were released, this one is my favorite. Nick Harkaway is an author whose previous books I had read and enjoyed. I think, however, of the three I have read (Gone Away World, which I enjoyed and Angelmaker, which I loved), Tigerman is my favorite of the three. I think Harkaway is one of those authors who gets better with each new book he writes. Thank you to Brittany at Knopf (PenguinRandomHouse) for the advance copy. By the way, fellow readers, check back to this space tomorrow for an exclusive Q&A with Mr. Nick Harkaway himself!
Sergeant Lester Ferris is almost finished with his career and has just finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan that did not go well. He’s then sent to Mancreu to keep the peace on an island where peace is anything but a five letter word. Mancreu is slowly disappearing under a toxic waste (the “Mancreu Cauldron” that is messing with the wildlife, the vegetation, and worse yet, the residents! The toxic Discharge Clouds (get used to the capitalization, it’s a thing throughout the novel) have created dangerous mental conditions among those who have succumbed to the toxic gasses being emitted. Lester really is turning a blind idea to all the shady criminal activity and tries to keep his nose clean, spending most of his free time hanging out with and forming a mentor-type relationship with a local boy whose main joy in life is his comic book obsession and a thirst for American pop culture. A huge boot kick of reality makes its way to Lester when his friend is murdered in a bar, and he asks the boy to be the communication channel to possibly help him figure out who was behind the murder, and help bring them to justice. What happens next…well, is quite the story. The whole book itself? Is quite a story. One that you need to pick up when it’s released and read with gusto, the way that Lester and the young boy take to the streets of Mancreu to solve crimes and try to save the island and the people still on it.
All I can say is that I love this book. Definitely my favorite of his books. All three of Harkaway’s works are distinctly different, but this one has a different cut than the other two. There is such a wonderful relationship that develops between Lester and the boy (Robin), and the paternal love that starts seeping from Lester’s pores in the presence of the young man, well, it’s heartwarming. There is spunk, wit, and dazzling prose set in an otherwise unstable enviroment, but you are captivated from page one, despite the fact that Mancreu and what Lester is walking into being far from idyllic. I love the fact that the young man calls himself Robin (THE Robin? As in Batman and …? Of course..what other Robin is there in comic book lore?) and takes to Lester as if he’s been searching for this father figure his whole life. Robin talks not in riddles, but in pop culture metaphors, and instantly the reader is charmed. Lester, despite his ability to turn a blind eye to the initial shadiness going on, really does come across as a hero. There are some great action scenes and a good deal of funny moments, but it’s really that pseudo father-son relationship that takes the reader on a sentimental journey that really does a number on the heartstrings. And that,dear reader, is why this book rocks. Give it a shot, you won’t be sorry.