Archive for November 11th, 2010

The Identity Man

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

By Andrew Klavan

The Short Take:

Klavan is a modern day Dashiell Hammett. This powerful crime thriller is exceptionally hard-boiled and exceptionally well written. It also makes some strong statements about modern culture.


This book is almost entirely populated by bad people. The opening chapters featured a burglary turned very violent and a cool assassination in an unidentified city facing flooding and anarchy (think New Orleans and Katrina). Yet Klavan actually makes you care about habitual thief John Shannon, who can only soothe a “crawly, itching” feeling by committing another crime.

Like Dashiell, Klavan presents a sleazy, morally corrupt world, but updated for the 21st century. Honor hides behind barred doors while feral young men rule the streets; cops are not to be trusted — just like politicians. It all sounds distressingly dark but Klavan’s writing is so perfectly textured for this genre that you willingly dive into his world.

Despite all that crime and toughness, I actually cried at the end. But I’m not going to say why.

A Little Plot:

Shannon pairs with a psycho for a burglary that turns into something worse. On the run with no options, Shannon responds to an enigmatic text message. Without his consent, his entire identity is changed and he awakes in a devastated and largely lawless city. It looks like a new chance at a good life. Guess again.

You know his path must cross that of police lieutenant, Brick Ramsey — the brutal enforcer for a government administration absolutely riddled with corruption; in a town that’s dying from violence and destruction. To find out why or how this happens, you’re going to have to go elsewhere.

Oh, there is a love angle, too. Imagine that.

If you want to know more about Andrew Klavan, you can visit his website by clicking here. Frankly it mainly focuses on his politics and religion so you might want to leave that to your imigination.


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