Archive for September 2nd, 2010

Rock Paper Tiger

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010


By Lisa Brackmann

The Short Take:

Brackmann’s first novel breaks a lot of the rules for a thriller; especially a thriller with international intrigue. Good for her. And good for us.

Why?

Instead of a former special forces commando with super skills, we have a former plain old National Guard drudge with nursing skills. And she’s a girl. With a bad leg. Plus, her survival instincts aren’t the best. In other words — a real person. And, boy, is she in a mess.

The Hitchcock-like mess Brackmann has created for her hero, Ellie Cooper, is also strikingly different: You can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys. I’m not talking about one mole or double agent. I’m talking about pretty much everybody. And neither can Ellie. She just keeps moving, keeps playing, keeps trying to be true to those she thinks are her friends, and keeps trying to elude everyone who might be her enemy.

Even the end is different; it’s not a tidy little package all wrapped up with a bow. Some questions linger. And, isn’t that more like real life, too? Hitchcock would have loved this book. But Brackmann’s Ellis is no icy blonde love interest, she’s as real a human hero as you’ll find.

A Little Plot:

Twenty-something Ellie Cooper is adrift. A severely injured Iraqi veteran, she came to China to be with her husband, Trey, who now wants a divorce. She wants to stay in China but both the “how” and “why” are complicated. She just knows she doesn’t want to return stateside.

On visit with an artist friend, Lao Zhang, she briefly meets a Uighur, a Chinese Muslim minority. While she thinks nothing of the encounter, both U.S.A. and Chinese operatives are now after her. And Zhang has disappeared.

Ellie’s not even sure if her pursuers are intent on finding the Uighur, her friend Zhang, or if it all has to do with something she shouldn’t have seen back in Iraq. As she struggles to find safety as well as answers, she is drawn into an online role-playing game where some players may be friends trying to help. Or maybe not.

But whatever move she makes, her pursuers are always there. And her danger grows.

IF you want to know more about Lisa Brackmann and her book, click here.

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