Life After 187
By Wade J. Halverson
Reviewed by Randall Radic
If you’re of a certain age, then you probably remember action-adventure writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Robert E. Howard, the creators of Tarzan and Bran Mak Morn, respectively. Nowadays we turn to W.E.B Griffin and Vince Flynn for our adrenaline fixes.
There’s a new kid on the block. His name is Wade J. Halverson. And he’s a combination of Robert E. Howard and Vince Flynn blended together with what ESPN reported as the “world’s fastest growing sport” – Ultimate Fighting. The result is action-adventure goosed up to maximum overdrive! For Wade J. Halverson writes fight scenes like a large-scale gamma ray emitter on crystal-meth and fly agarics – potent and hallucinogenic.
In other words, Life After 187 – which is the penal code designation for murder – flat out ROCKS! We are talking head-banging heavy metal.
The story is compact and fast-paced. Wham! Bam! Slam! There are good guys, bad guys, in-between guys, money, beautiful women, and lots of hand-to-hand combat. The kind of combat where the only rule is that “there are no rules.” Anything goes.
The gist of the story goes like this: Kane Silver is a member of a special operations unit in the U.S. Army. His wife is brutally raped and murdered. Kane annihilates the men who killed her. He simply kicks ass and doesn’t even think about taking names. But as with most things in life, there are consequences. He is sentenced to three consecutive life sentences in prison. While in prison, Kane and two other inmates recruited by the warden to participate in ultimate fighting matches. Kane and the other two fighters manage to escape and end up in Hong Kong, and then in Brazil, where they take on the drug cartels.
It’s obvious from the fight scenes that Halverson knows whereof he writes. This isn’t some nerd in a bow-tie sitting down at his computer terminal, faking it. This is someone who’s been there and done that. For the action flows fast and furious with ferocious authenticity. Yet at the same time, the combatants, who are the products of the harsh precepts of training, contend not only with each other but also with their own impulses. Impulses which could lead to mistakes, injury, defeat and death.
Indeed, the action is so absorbing that the reader doesn’t even notice the author’s style, which is simple yet very effective. Short sentences full of strong verbs and just the right amount of description. Which is what action writing is all about. Halverson’s ‘voice’ is rich and forceful, exuding an almost palpable energy. And his dialogue is short and sweet, crisp and clean. Which is the way the reader would expect such characters to speak.
Speaking of characters, there is just enough information about each one to promote the reader’s identification with them, but not so much that the action starts to drag. Which is the right balance for the action-adventure genre. Too much characterization slows the story down, whereas too much action eventually begins to cloy. Halverson carefully maintains the equilibrium: the action keeps the reader engaged, while the characterization keeps the reader cheering for the good guy.
Beware, though. This book will suck you in. Once you begin reading it you won’t be able to put it down. And gosh by golly, it would make one heck of a movie. Maybe Jean Claude Van Damme could be persuaded to take a little human growth hormone, thus shedding ten years of age. He’d be perfect for the role of Kane Silver. Or maybe Jason Statham would do it
On the action-adventure Read-O-Meter, which ranges from one star (whimpy) to five stars (bad-ass to the max) Life After 187 commands a hypertrophied 5 stars. Whatever you do, do not miss this one!