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9.15.2007

The Mark

My apologies about missing a post yesterday. I was in lovely Gainesville and I can't say enough about that town. It's a gem-a college town in every sense of the term. It has great energy, a lively arts scene, a beautiful campus and lots to offer culturally. The University of Florida is a top-notch research school and I was impressed with the folks I met with there.

I also wanted to mention to any readers here in Northeast Florida that the first of our lecture series on conservation (The FCCJ Environmental Preservation Series at Deerwood Center) kicks off at 7:00 p.m. next Wednesday, September 19. The Marsh Preservation Society will present a multi-media discussion on the importance of setting aside natural wetlands as both storm barriers and important wildlife habitat. The lecture will run from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. and will be held at Deerwood Center, in room B1206.

There are many nice things to say about Jason Pinter's debut thriller The Mark. Pinter, an editor, author and blogger has constructed a stylish page turner in this first effort. His prose is economical and I think his attention to pacing is very acute. It's a single-afternoon read if you can block out the time.

His characterization is a real strength here as well. He has a good handle on including just the requisite amount of physical description. The rest is left up to us, and so Henry Parker and Amanda Davies and Shelton Barnes (The Ringer) each come to life as vivid, round characters.

In the tradition of early John Grisham novels (The Pelican Brief and The Firm come to mind), The Mark features a protagonist on the run. When he stumbles upon a crime in progress, the cub reporter is implicated in killing an NYPD officer. The rest of the novel involves a believable and tightly plotted game of cat and mouse as Parker enlists the help of Davies and sets out to clear his name.

Jason is talented, and I'm not sure if he is still actively acquiring texts and working with writers, but his future is pretty well outlined for him. The Mark is the first in a three-book series, and he recently announced on his blog that he has signed on for four more subsequent Henry Parker novels. What a neat (and daunting) sense of purpose to consider the life and maturity arc of a character over such a period of time.

The book has minor flaws. Pinter is a young man and a recent college graduate. Subsequently, many of the ancillary characters are described as being in their mid-twenties. I know there are some older folks in New York. And when they escape a hit-man by jumping in the back of a truck stopped at a traffic light, it feels a bit cliched.

Those are tiny quibbles in what is otherwise an excellent read. I bought a copy for my mom for her birthday. I sandwiched it in there with an Elmore Leonard and a Lee Child, so you can see I hold his work in high regard.

Hold your breath as the Ducks get set for Fresno State tonight. Could be the proverbial trap game, though we've won the last three in the series against those pesky Bulldogs.

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