Thursday, February 16, 2012

Level 26: Dark revelations by Anthony E. Zuiker & Duane Swierczynski

This is the third book in the Level 26 trilogy and contains spoilers about what has happened in the previous two books - if you like to read series in order then be warned that there are ***SPOILERS*** in this review and don't read any more of this review.

Steve Dark has chased some seriously dangerous villains over the years, killers with twisted minds and ambitious ways of committing unspeakable acts of torture and murder.  First he was with Special Circs with his mentor Tom Riggins, but more recently he has been working with Lisa Graysmith - who represents a mysterious benefactor that provides Dark with all the toys and access he needs to keep chasing the bad guys.  Dark is finally settling into a life with his young daughter Sibby, finding a balance between being a dad and catching the killers that need catching.  That balance is altered when a homeless man walks into an LAPD building and blows up, leaving behind a parcel from a person identifying themselves as Labyrinth.  Labyrinth appears out of nowhere, a killer with unbelievable skills who leaves a series of complicated messages and just enough time to try and solve them.  Time that rapidly ticks away for the first few victims.

Tired of being a puppet on a string, Dark turns the tables on Graysmith and demands to be taken to her employer, but meeting his mysterious benefactor may only be the beginning.  Labyrinth is intelligent and twisted, and very adept at maniulating the masses through global media and social networking.  What should be a series of villainous acts instead turns the people into a seething mass of discontent, a mass of people calling for change and for people to be accountable.  Used to hunting alone, Dark struggles to settle into his new team, and complications from his old life don't help.

This is the final book in the Level 26 series and ends the series with a satisfying bang (and something of a whimper as well).  This has been an interesting experiment, blending together elements of the traditional novel, with digital media elements for those who want to go online and watch the clips.  For the first book in the series I stopped and watched the clips in the appropriate places, for the second I watched some of them but not in the "right" places, and for this last one I read it purely as a book.  I enjoyed the concept and would like to see some of the teens authors try something similar with some of the fantasy/horror series or with some of the real life reads - it could add an interesting dimension, but also has to be done very well to match the level of integrity that Zuiker and the team established here.

This is not a series for the faint hearted as it can be graphic at times.  I liked trying to figure out the riddles in this book before the characters, and there are some very slick ideas in this book.  It would be interesting to see a series of movies based on Special Circs, but based on the novels it would be too gory for my taste to see in full colour on the big screen.  Hopefully Zuiker will come up with some more ideas like this in the future.

If you like this book then try:
  • Level 26: Dark origins by Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski
  • Fun & games by Duane Swierczynski
  • I am not a serial killer by Dan Wells
  • Cold vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • Shock wave by John Sandford
  • Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
  • The bone collector by Jeffery Deaver
  • The silence of the lambs by Thomas Harris
  • Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  • Hostage by Robert Crais

Reviewed by Brilla

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