September 12, 2010
REVIEW: THE THOUSAND by Kevin Guilfoile
And that's to put the plot in the tiniest possible nutshell, because the plot of The Thousand is not easily summed up. To wit, Nada's father, a brilliant composer and maestro, had narrowly escaped conviction on a charge of brutally slaying his mistress only to be shot by his mistress' father two weeks after the trial ended in acquittal. Her father's killer then committed suicide. But how it that years later, the gun used to kill Nada's father is then used to kill the doctor who implanted the neurotransmitter in Nada? And what does any of this have to do with two commercial airliners crashing just after take-off at Fort Lauderdale, a missing musical masterpiece, a sheik, a casino owner, a math professor, a Las Vegas prosecuting attorney, a deranged artist, a business tycoon, and a prolonged black-out in Chicago at the height of summer?
The magnet that draws the reader is the notion that "everything in the universe apparently can be described or predicted with a mathematical equation," and that a small number of people - The Thousand - are privy to that information, withholding it from the general population for reasons generally stemming from greed, power, and fear. But of course, there are people who know the information is out there, don't have it themselves, and will kill to get it.
For myself, this aspect and the many characters involved are less riveting than the single character who acts out of selfless love for Nada. Framed for a double murder, Wayne Jennings is a casino worker and he is certainly no Jack Reacher. Nevertheless, Wayne begins a grueling cross-country journey -- Las Vegas to Chicago, and some of it on foot. His goal is to find and save Nada, even though he has reason to believe her feelings for him are transitory at best. Deprived of money, wanted by the law, betrayed at every turn, and facing death in the desert, the beleaguered Wayne becomes the character we root for. We root for Nada, too, but as the book goes on, we pull for her more for Wayne's sake than for her own. God forbid he should go through seven kinds of hell only for her to end up dead.
Fans of arcane conspiracy theories (can you say Dan Brown?) will enjoy author Guilfoile's tapestry of lies, paranoia, rumor, innuendo, betrayal, and power-mongering. Not to mention action and murder.