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by Jack Du Brul
Dutton, October 2006
368 pages
ISBN: 0525948821

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jack Du Brul's novels should come with a warning label. If you get easily offended by historic changes which show, for example, that Alexander the Great was actually Alexander the Ordinary, or if you cringe at the wanton destruction of classic automobiles, then this book is not for you.

However, if you are looking for pure escapist fare where the good guys always win no matter the circumstance, bad guys lose no matter how carefully they overplan their evil deeds, and a hidden treasure is found where you would least expect it, you might want to consider trying the latest book in Du Brul's series featuring geologist extraordinaire (among other things) Philip "Call me Mercer" Mercer. However if you consider turning on your logic switch, even once, then "fugeddaboutit." You might want to reconsider, if you want to read this book.

The novel starts with a new take on an epic disaster in New Jersey during the early 20th century that will have repercussions throughout the book. Fast forward to the present to the Central African Republic where a young woman claiming to be from the Center of Disease Control wants to go to a remote village during the middle of a revolution.

She meets Mercer who, like in most books of this kind, just happens to be there and he is willing to help her, even though her story does not seem quite right. Cue in the bad guys and let the adventure begin. After a heroic escape Mercer decides to investigate the case further and discovers that the village has a secret that could bring disaster to the entire world. There is a cache of natural-occurring plutonium hidden in barrels somewhere around the world and there is a terrorist group that wants it badly. Do I need to say who will save the day?

HAVOC is relatively mindless, focusing strongly on exotic locales and extraordinary moments of heroism, filled with a lot of testosterone, and a dash of humor here and there. The author also sprinkles the novel with elements taken from Homerís ODYSSEY. I groaned when Mercer was escaping a villain by the name of Caribe Dayce (Charybdis) by running to the Scilla (Scylla) river. Oh, and donít get me started on the character representing the Cyclops or even the name of the alleged CDC agent.

You'll need to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the ride. This novel is not to be considered a literary classic; it just borrows a little bit of it. HAVOC is fun as long as you donít overthink things.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, December 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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