Action/adventure thrillers never feature on my reading list, which is odd considering I drool over techo-thrillers (Jurassic Park being my favorite of all time, The Andromeda Strain a close second) and spend a great deal of time reading crime (Connelly, Coben, Slaughter). I even read a Tom Clancy once, albeit in a Break Open in Case of No Reading Material Emergency-type situation, but I quite enjoyed it. Lock Down appeared to star the literary equivalent of Jack Bauer, its author was the subject of a frenzied auction for the series rights and Black himself undertook some grueling research in an army camp in Wales prior to writing it, so I thought it’d be worth a go.
“A deadly mission. It may be Christmas Eve in New York, but for ex-military bodyguard Ryan Lock it’s business as usual. His task: to protect one of America’s most ruthless businessmen. A bloody shootout. Suddenly gunshots ring out. People run for cover. Innocent people are mown down. Amid the chaos, Lock’s hunt for the killer turns into an explosive game of cat and mouse. Only one man can save New York. Lock’s search for the truth takes him to a heavily fortified warehouse on the Hudson where he confronts one of the world’s most dangerous women. As the clock ticks towards midnight on New Year Eve’s, Lock realizes that not only is his own life in terrible danger but so are the lives of millions of others…”
Lock Down opens with a busy morning on the streets of New York: snipers take out an animal rights activist at a protest in front of the headquarters of a pharmaceutical company, and a seven-year-old boy is kidnapped by his Russian au pair. Ryan Lock (think Jack Bauer, but as a bachelor with a sense of humor and a job in the private sector) finds himself entangled in the shady goings-on that link both these events and the dumping of a body in Times Square only weeks before.
Black has clearly done his homework. There’s plenty of gun porn, military speak and gratuitous violence (including a rolling head – yes, a rolling head), but this is slickly woven into the narrative and not at all distracting. Lock is really likeable as the tough guy with a heart of gold and even though the plot takes some outlandish turns, I was more than willing to go along for the ride.
But will I run out and buy Dead Lock, the next Ryan Lock installment? No, despite my love of clever titles. Because although Lock Down was a competent debut (except for a frustrating problem with a jumpy Point of View, a mistake right out of Creative Writing 101) it was fairly standard fare. It kept me turning the pages, but I put the book down several times, and I’m not sure I would’ve picked it back up again if it wasn’t for this review.
And so ends my participation in Transworld’s Summer Reading Challenge. (Imagine a single silent tear slipping down my cheek.) An excellent initiative to get Transworld titles new in paperback read by book bloggers, Amazon reviewers and Goodreads users, it allowed me to choose four free books from a list of ten in exchange for reviewing them on my site. As well as Lock Down, I also read If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld and Second Hand Heart by my initial-sake, Catherine Ryan Hyde. I hope it was successful enough for Transworld to do it again (maybe have a winter one as well?) but I’m sure it was. Just do us a favor, Transworld, and forget the “challenge” bit? Unless it’s like three or four books a week, that is.