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"Klavan winds his tale tighter and tighter until the reader is hopelessly spellbound. Superb suspense by a master storyteller."-Clive Cussler on Dynamite Road
"A dynamite read about small-town corruption, drug running, and a genuinely terrifying serial killer."—-San Diego Union Tribune
"Klavan's riveting blend of mystery, wiseass attitude, and old fashioned moralizing makes for a wild ride."—-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
ONE It was one hundred and five degrees the day Jim Bishop roared into the north country. The sun burned merciless on the dead meridian. The mountains rose brown and barren on either side of the freeway. The heat pooled like water on the pavement up ahead.
Bishop rolled the throttle of the Harley Road King. The big bike crested seventy-five, pulsing between his legs. It was a long-haul dresser, built for comfort, but Bishop was aching beneath his jeans. His gray T-shirt was black with sweat beneath his leather jacket. His hair was soaked beneath his helmet. His sunglasses were smeared--his windshield too--with what bikers call "protein spray"--splattered bugs.
He veered off the freeway at the end of the long valley. Exit: Driscoll, California, population sixty-seven thousand, the 0last great outpost before the mountains and the woods.
The Harley grumbled as Bishop forced it down beneath its touring speed. He rolled at forty-five along a bland fourlane, hemmed in every which way by a steady stream of cars. Gas stations lined the road and sand-colored malls and more gas stations and motel after motel and then fast-food outposts, Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonald's, and more gas stations and more malls with their stores in sand-colored boxes and the big screaming letters to tell which store was which. The Harley went down one road, turned onto another and then turned onto another and the scenery stayed the same. Gas stations, hotels, restaurants and malls. From behind his aviator shades, Bishop's pale eyes searched for the city center. Then he realized: This was it, this was all there was. Driscoll was just a starburst scar of concrete and stucco at the base of the big mountains. A tourist stop on the way into the wilderness.
He chugged over a white bridge, still hemmed in by traffic. Beneath him, the Sacramento River glinted painfully in the sun. On the far side of the water, around a bend, the cars began to fall away a little. Bishop opened the throttle some, split the lane and wove between a couple of cage-drivers. He wound round the corner onto Main Street--or what was called Main Street. Main Street was pretty much dead. The malls and their chain stores had sucked the life out of it. Now there was a gutted theater here and a desperate bar called the Clover Leaf and a hotel that might have been open or closed, he couldn't tell which. A one-armed man in an army cap was staggering drunk on the sidewalk. A fat man with a bushy beard was planted at the corner, brandishing a cardboard sign that said: Homeless Veteran. Give what you can. Bishop and his big motorcycle cruised on by.
He headed into the neighborhoods. On branching roads, slanting houses of wood or aluminum huddled on scraps of lawn. Fat women in sleeveless blouses hosed down patches of desert garden. Their grubby children danced laughing through the water.
The laughter fell away. The city fell away. A few last gasping shacks and then an empty field, burnt dry by the heat, ran shimmering into the foothills. Far away, as in a dreamland far away, the whitewashed walls of holiday mansions gleamed down at Driscoll from those hills on high. Bishop had reached the edge of town, the border of the northern forests.
He rounded his bike onto a gritty little lane and rode the last half mile to the airfield.
* * *
There were two men in the hangar, both in overalls. One was an older statesman, bald, craggy. The other was a young fellow with a face lit by brainless contentment. They were chatting over the low wing of a Piper Tomahawk. Chatting, chuckling. It was the older man, wiping his hands on a rag, who first looked through the hangar door and saw Bishop heading in.
Bishop had left his helmet hanging from the Harley's handlebars. Stripped off his leather jacket and slung it over his shoulder. He was strolling across the parking lot slowly, slowly surveying the airfield with the pale eyes behind the aviator shades. Bishop was around thirty then, I guess. Not a big man, five-eight or -nine maybe but broad across the shoulders and muscular, pecs and biceps stretching the sweat-dark tee. He had a way of moving, easy and tense, so you sensed his speed and his compact power. He had a round face with chiseled features under sandy hair. And though he looked as if he had his tongue in his cheek, as if he was laughing silently at a joke you were too thick to understand, the older man had been around some and had seen guys like this before. His stomach sank and he swallowed dry as he watched Bishop come on.
Bishop stepped out of the hot sunlight into the hangar's cooler shadows. Stopped at the Tomahawk's rudder.
"Either of you Ray?" he asked.
"Yeah," said the older man. "I'm Ray. Ray Grambling."
"I'm Frank Kennedy," said Jim Bishop quietly. "I'm your new pilot."
Copyright © 2003 by Andrew Klavan
Posted February 24, 2014
Posted April 17, 2013
*got further in the song* / we came to test test test test test. Answer these questions do our best best best best. We came to school to work so hard hard hard hard. And now we're ready to do this this this this. Yeah, yeah. It's ELA and some math, so do our best and don't be mad, yeah. The test has started get your pencils set. Saying eeeeh oh. Start to wright, oh. I'm nearly done and now it's getting hard, saying eeeeh oh, time to work, oh. And then I get to work, trying my hardest. Answering question, after question. And now I am done, with the ELA, and now all that's left, is the state math test. I came to learn learn learn learn. The test is big but don't be scared scared scared scared. It may be hard but you should try try try try. Long as you try you'll do real good good good good. Yeah, yeah. And now we're almost done to test. So now work hard and do your best, yeah. The test has started get your pencils set. Saying eeeeh oh, fill in those bubbles. \  that's all I have so far... ill keep working on it. And some peices might be different because I have my paoer now :P 
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Posted November 23, 2008
The plotline of this novel comes straight out of a 40's gangster movie, although it's been updated to deal with the modern world. But Klavan has added an extra undefined something to the story - something that puts it more than a cut above your average detective novel. <BR/><BR/>True, the people are stock characters - the hard-boiled private eye who was once a cop; his partner, who's still on the force and has the personality of a crab; the gorgeous damsel in distress (who we never actually get to meet); and the prototypical arch-villains. But they all mesh together and you enjoy knowing what happens to them. I've read many other similar stories - some published in the 40's, some fairly recently - and a lot of them I just discarded because the people in them were basically cartoon characters. Not here. I hope the next novel in this series (and the cover indicates this is the first of a series) tells us a bit more about the damsel in distress, and about the mysterious Shadowman and his relationship with Weiss. <BR/><BR/>Oh, and if the author is the Drew Klavan whose twin brothers I grew up with a few blocks down the road, and he reads this - tell those brothers I said hello.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 5, 2003
Known by employees, clients, and the author¿s family as the Agency, Weiss Investigation is a San Francisco private detective firm. Owner Scott Weiss assigns Jim Bishop to investigate the questionable flight activities of Chris Wannamaker at a small airport off of Driscoll in Northern California. When Jim arrives in town, he introduces himself to Ray Grambling as Frank Kennedy his new pilot. Jim meets Chris¿ wife Kathleen, Director of Operations, and quickly seduces her to obtain information. <P>Meanwhile Weiss investigates three recent deaths that seem connected to only him. Weiss, a former cop, recognizes the signature of his enemy, the assassin Shadowman. Soon Weiss¿ work ties in to the havoc that Bishop is causing. As the murder count rises and somehow femme fatale Julie Wyant is in the center of the storm if only because Weiss cannot ignore her lure, the two sleuths must stop an enormous murder conspiracy that only the Shadowman could achieve. <P>Though the conspiracy that ties all the crimes together seems stretched, fans of hard boiled detectives that make Spade and Marlow look like wimps will enjoy DYNAMITE ROAD. The story line places the classic elements of the 1930s sleuths inside a modern day setting. The comparison between the by the book Weiss and the break it even if its okay Bishop is a delight to follow as they disagree about the means to achieve the end. Especially ironic is that the former cannot resist the Mary Astor like Julie while the latter sleeps with any woman (when he is not beating someone up). Fans of the ultra hard boiled detective tale will want to follow the case files of this Agency. <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.