Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: DARK PROPHECY by Anthony E. Zuiker & Duane Swierczynski

*This review is for the book only. Unlike DARK ORIGINS, I choose not to watch the cyber bridges of DARK PROPHECY in order to streamline the text.

Dark Prophecy (Level 26, #2)DARK PROPHECY is James Patterson like, almost two-dimensional cardboard characters slightly balanced by high octane thrills and hard hitting action sequences. This book felt very much like a TV episode (perhaps due to Zuiker’s CSI?) with condensed characterisation and an emphasis on the quick thrill. In DARK ORIGINS, the authors (Zuiker and Swierczynski) created a truly horrifying and menacing villain in Sqweegel, a contortionist with a penchant for violence and unsettling habit of covert break and entry who really gripped the reader. In DARK PROPHECY, the villain(s) are run of the mill – a Tarot Card Killer whose murder spree spans the US in some elaborate plot to justify revenge for an unfortunate event – it’s a twisted premise common in serial killer fiction where the rationale thinker is put aside in order to follow the actions of the bad guys.

Steve Dark is the primary focus of the second instalment of the Level 26 trilogy – he’s washed up, self obsessed and struggling to come to grips with being a father to a motherless daughter. No longer working for the agency responsible for tracking and stopping the Level 26 killers, he’s a pale comparison of his former self. Choosing to hide deep within while maintaining the façade of a college professor, Dark’s obsessive compulsive behaviour sees him canvas old texts on serial killers analysing from the confines of his own home rather than the field which made his name. His white collar job provides just enough outside stimulation as to stop him from reverting to a full blown hermit. Make no mistake, Dark is a far cry from the character last seen in DARK ORIGINS. Despite a wealth of material to draw upon for Steve Dark, he still felt a little cardboard cut-out like for me.    

I had high expectations for DARK PROPHECY with the ending to DARK ORIGINS setting the tone for what should’ve been a more elaborate look at the level 26 killers and the means the secret agencies will go to in order to eradicate or harness their mayhem. Despite some obvious shortcomings, DARK PROPHECY is still an entertaining white knuckle thriller that manages to maintain a degree of mystery on both sides of the law; the identity of TCK and the secret agency responsible for luring Dark back into the field. The chapter are very quick and flow well with one another (akin to James Patterson). I didn’t have to overly think anything which serves well for those wanting something quick and easy to fulfil their crime fix. As with the ending of DARK ORIGINS, DARK PROPHECY has once again hooked me in to wanting to continue reading the series.