Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Long Man

The Long Man
by Steve Englehart
Tor books
384 pages
Copyright 2010

In 1981, DJ and Vietnam vet Max August was thrust into a hidden war between the forces of chaos and order. In that war, magick--real, potent magick--was the chief weapon. Mentored by legendary alchemist Cornelius Agrippa, Max was an eager student. Before Agrippa died in 1985--having lived for five hundred years--Max learned the secret to stopping the aging of his body, making himself "timeless."

Nearly three decades later, he saes Dr. Pamela Blackwell from a magickal dart that would have killed her. Her life-saving research has made her an enemy of the FRC, a cabal intent on world domination.

From San Francisco to Barbados to the shores of Suriname, Max and Pam must fight off magick-wielding assassins, legions of zombies, and the FRC's more mundane weapon--corporate clout and friends in high places. Max may be powerful and timeless, but he's not indestructible. He'll need all his powers, his hard-earned fighting skills, and Pam's help to prevent a genocidal apocalypse.

Supernatural enemies, dazzling magic, and nonstop excitement mark this international thriller, a page-turner from a master storyteller.

I never read Steve Englehart's first book, The Point Man, which was published in 1981. I would have been 9 years old. And I'm not Timeless. The Long Man is a follow-up to that book, and follows the continuing adventures of Max August, but just as 25 years have passed in our world, 25 years have passed in his. Because I wasn't familiar with the back story of the characters of Max, Agrippa, or the superstar singer Val, it did take some figuring out what was going on in the books first few pages. I wasn't sure if this was the sort of book that would keep my interest going or not, as Englehart kept changing the time from the current time and going back to 1985 as he filled in some of the gaps of what has happened to our main character in the intervening years between his first book and this one. His mentor has been killed by Aleksandra. Val has been to, though this doesn't stop him from spending the years in between trying to find her and bring her back on each October 31.

So, when in 2007, he feels a pull back to San Francisco, where he had his popular radio show back in the day, he thinks that it's his desire to reach Val that is bringing him back. That, however, is not what fate has in store for him when he receives a phone call from an old friend that results in a new adventure taking him from San Francisco to Barbados and to Suriname (that's in South America if you slept through your geography class) as he faces off against black magic, zombies, chupacabra, and the FRC. In tow is Dr. Pam Blackwell, a doctor who has come up with an antidote for puffer fish poison--an antidote that earns her some powerful enemies that don't want to see that antidote known about in their scheme for world domination. The Long Man is nonstop action from start to finish, presented in a fun and irrelevent manner, while at the same time putting it all into context of the way the world was in 2007 and the changes our world went through as a result of 9/11 and the need for change and hope in the 2008 Presidential election.

It's interesting that the FRC is chosen as the initials of the evil cartel that he comes up against, and how those same initials are used by these high-ranking and powerful individuals who run the world behind the scenes. One of the several examples of this presented by the author is the Federal Reserve Chair. Of course, FRC has a variety of different meanings, in all fields--politics, manufacturing, financial institutions, some of which you can find by searching Wikipedia and/or Google.

This is Steve Englehart's second book. He is more known for his work on writing for comic book series, "The Avengers," "Captain America," "The Fantastic Four," "Batman," and "Justice League of America."

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Long Man. Will you? I would have you do what Max August says. Explore but verify.