Blown Away is the newest Frank Corso novel from G.M. Ford, and it's yet another thrilling adventure. Ford is a master at gritty characters and situations, and this one's no different. In a departure for Ford, however, he leaves a cliffhanger at the end of the book, mildly annoying because there's no hint of it and some people don't like to be left hanging. They prefer to buy books in a series all at once. So be warned. Either it's a cliffhanger, or Ford has succeeded in killing off his main character without resolving the overarching plot. Something tells me it's a cliffhanger, though. Even with that problem, I really enjoyed Blown Away and would heartily recommend it.
Famous author and former disgraced reporter Frank Corso has been sent to a small town in upstate Pennsylvania in some of the worst winter weather imaginable. His publisher insists that there's a book in the story of a young man who was killed by the bomb he had around his neck during a bank robbery. The young man walked in, gave the teller a note stating that all of the money must be handed over to him or his captors would blow him, and anyone near him, to pieces. While Corso doesn't see too much in the story and just wants to get out of town, the fact that everybody is trying to run him out of town begins to intrigue him. When the FBI gets involved, forcing Frank and the woman sent by his publisher to help him (Chris Andriatta) to assist them in dealing with a series of similar crimes in Los Angeles, things really begin to heat up. While Corso's reluctant at first, he finds himself getting deeper and deeper into the mess. And he doesn't know who to trust anymore.
Blown Away was almost impossible for me to put down. Ford has such a way of writing that he hooks you in and doesn't let you go until it's time to come up for air. He's expanding his horizons from his native Seattle, with the third book in a row taking place outside the friendly confines of that city. He gives vivid descriptions of the setting and what's going on, but he doesn't waste any words. While the dialogue is crisp, he doesn't solely rely on it like Robert Parker does (at least in the one book of his I have read). Instead, he gives a nice blend, making you feel at home in the setting but then providing crackling dialogue that keeps the story moving.
Ford also excels in the characterization department. Frank, of course, is wonderful, with his combination of toughness and tenderness when it's called for. His interview with the father of the young man killed in Pennsylvania is great, and he does a complete about-face when the father's older son comes in threatening Frank for having the nerve to talk to the father. Frank immediately shows how tough he can be in that case.
But it's not just the main character in Blown Away. Once again, Ford has given us a cast of interesting characters who perfectly round out the whodunit aspect of the novel, as well as making at least two-dimensional characters out of the witnesses Frank talks to. None of them are cardboard in anyway, with distinctive personalities and quirks that made me want to read about them. Since Ford has no qualms about killing some of them off during the story, the fact that you actually care about them makes it all the more effective.
The relationship that develops between Frank and Chris did make me pine for Meg (Frank's on and off-again love interest from the first few books of the series), but Chris was still effective. There were a couple of oddities in her character that I really can't go into because of spoilers, but some of the revelations about her made me question some of her actions earlier in the book. Still, she's interesting to read about and she makes a good foil for Frank. It helps the book when Frank has a character to bounce things off of, and adding the bit of sexual tension to the whole thing makes it even better. That being said, it would be nice if the next book had a platonic relationship, or at least some tension but that's it. It is starting to wear a bit thin.
The only other minor problem I had with the book is that it's a bit predictable. Two of the major twists in the book are either extremely telegraphed or just a bit obvious. Since I'm not that good at predicting these things, it would seem that they were a bit too obvious. That detracts a little bit from the book, but Ford's writing is so good and fun that it more than made up for it. It also helps that I was waiting for my predictions to be wrong.
Blown Away is another winner from a mystery (or "suspense," I guess they're calling it now) writer who has yet to have a truly bad book (just a couple of "eh" ones). I will be waiting on pins and needles for the next book, but if you're one who must have a complete story, then wait until next year for this one. It will be worth the wait.