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Revolution No. 9
Carroll Monks was planning a trip to Ireland. His grandfather had grown up near Kilrush, on the west coast, before emigrating to the States. Monks had seen a photo of the place -- a stone hovel in a barren field, miles from the nearest tiny village.
But Monks himself had never set foot on Irish soil. Why that was so was a puzzle even to him. The only answer he could give was that his life for the past thirty-odd years seemed to have been one long struggle to stay on top of whatever he was doing, while stumbling toward the next goal -- college, medical school, five years in the navy, getting established in practice. Then marriage, children, divorce, and the thousands of vicissitudes that went with all that. Most of the traveling he had done had either been out of necessity, or vacations that were aimed at pleasing his children.
But the lapse was still inexcusable, and he was going to rectify it, come next March. He was not in search of his roots -- he intended to make that clear to everybody he met. Mainly, he hoped to drink in some good pubs, walk on deserted beaches, and listen to a lot of rain, while he was warm and dry inside.
He was warm and dry right now, inside his own living room. It was early December, getting toward dusk, and the northern California winter was starting to settle in. A fire crackled in his woodstove, with cats sleeping in front of it, waiting for him to break out the slab of fresh salmon that they knew was in the refrigerator, ready to broil on a charcoal grill. Meanwhile, to get himself in shape for the journey, Monks had put aside the vodka that was his usual preference and taken up an apprenticeship with John Power whiskey, a working-class Irish malt with a good rough edge. He liked to sip it neat, slowly, sampling various stouts as chasers. The effect was like nectar and ambrosia combined.
He had been reading up on Irish history and had a pile of maps and guidebooks that he consulted while plotting his course. His main focus was a leisurely trip up the west coast, through Galway to Donegal, staying as close as he could to the ocean. He had no fixed schedule. In early spring, lodging should be easy to find. He would be traveling alone. Ideally, he would have a female companion along, but there was no one on the radar just now. He was starting to wonder if there ever would be again.
Monks decided to pour one more short splash of whiskey before starting the charcoal for the salmon. He was getting to his feet when a knock came at the front door.
This surprised him. His house was a good hundred yards off a little- traveled county road, surrounded by redwoods, all but hidden from view. He would have heard a car coming up his gravel drive. So the caller was on foot -- but there were no near neighbors, and no one in the habit of dropping by.
He stepped to a window that gave a view of the deck outside the front door. His surprise deepened. A young woman was standing there. The evening darkness was closing in, but he was quite sure she wasn't anyone he knew. She was looking around, in a way that suggested she might be nervous at approaching a stranger's house at dusk.
Monks walked to the door and opened it.
She was in her early twenties, tall and full-figured; not really pretty but attractive, with olive skin and strong Mediterranean features. Her black hair was pinned with a clasp and worn long down her back. She was dressed as if for business, in tailored slacks and a silk blouse. She smiled but that looked nervous, too.
"I saw your lights," she said, with a slight stammer. "I got a flat tire, down on the road."
Monks's heart sank a little. Changing a tire, in the dark, on a vehicle he didn't know anything about, was not an enjoyable prospect. "I'll come take a look," he said.
She murmured thanks.
He was wearing jeans, a flannel shirt, and well-worn Red Wing work boots -- clothes that would do. He got a powerful Mag flashlight out of the front closet and put on a wool-lined Carhartt jacket. Then, seeing that she had crossed her forearms and was rubbing her upper arms with her palms, he said, "You're welcome to stay here and warm up while I go check it out."
She shook her head. "That's okay."
"You want a coat?"
"That's okay," she said again. "I've got one down there. I didn't think it was this cold."
Monks switched on the flashlight, illuminating their path down the gravel drive toward the county road. The woods were still. A few brave tree frogs emitted hopeful croaks in the chilly damp air, trying to strike up the usual evening chorus, but apparently most of their comrades were bedded down in amphibean comfort, exercising selective deafness.
"I can't promise I can do this," Monks warned. "Is there somebody around here who could come pick you up?"
She didn't live nearby, then, and wasn't visiting someone who did. He wondered what she was doing on a narrow, out-of-the-way road that ran from noplace to noplace else. Probably she was just lost.
"Do you know where the jack and spare are?" he asked.
"Do you have an owner's manual?"
"I'm not sure."
His lips twisted wryly. There was nothing like traveling prepared. But he reminded himself that at her age he had been pretty feckless, too.
"We might have to call a tow truck," he said.
She nodded, still clasping herself.
Monks thought about trying to keep up small talk, but it seemed clear that she wanted to get this done and get out of here ...Revolution No. 9
A Novel. Copyright © by Neil McMahon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Dr. Carroll Monks leaves his home to help a lady change her flat tire down the road. But instead of a disabled vehicle, Monks finds himself kidnapped and taken to a terrorist encampment. ................... The leader is a sociopath called 'Freeboot'. The group is determined to change society. They have already killed a few leading citizens. Freeboot's three-year-old son, Mandrake, is diabetic and close to death. Monks, being the caring healer he is, wants to stabilize Mandrake and then get the little boy to a hospital. Freeboot refuses to let Monks or Mandrake leave camp, even if it means Mandrake's death. Worse, Dr. Monks's own estranged son is one of the terrorists. In fact, he was the one to give Freeboot the idea of kidnapping the doctor. ..................... Monks already knows that he has lost his own son, but refuses to let Mandrake die. Monks will have to think of a way to escape. Then the 'kidnappee' will become the 'kidnapper', because Monks plans on taking Mandrake with him. ................... ***** This is one of the best novels I have read in months! It is scary to think that something such as this has probably already happened before. Author Neil McMahon has one daring imagination! Most impressive! *****
Timely and well within the realm of possibility both describe the frightening scenario developed by Neil McMahon in his latest thriller 'Revolution No. 9.' Known and appreciated for his precise, intelligent, and well-crafted stories, McMahon has won a following with 'Blood Double,' 'Twice Dying,' and 'To The Bone.' This, his fourth to feature Dr. Carroll Monks, will not disappoint. Living alone in northern California, Monks is a doctor disenchanted with much about his profession. He's divorced, and estranged from his son, Glenn, who, as far as Monks knew was a street person in Seattle. Monks has an affinity for the bottle, and a disregard for his own well-being. As the story opens his evening is interrupted by a knock on the door. He finds a young woman who claims she had a flat tire down the road. You know what sometimes happens to Good Samaritans. Monks accompanies her back to her SUV where he's kidnaped at gunpoint, tied, and tossed into another car. Worst of all he recognized the face of the person who had fingered him - his son, Glenn. Monks is taken to a remote compound overseen by a sociopath called Freeboot. His followers, both male and female, are a bunch of misfits intent on overthrowing society. While Monks has read of the apparent random killings of wealthy couples throughout the country, he had absolutely no idea what connection there could be between those murders and Freeboot's heinous plans. Freeboot has brought Monk to his outpost to care for the madman's young son, Mandrake, who is at the point of death. Monks well knows that he cannot help the child without hospital facilities, yet Freeboot forbids it. There's little chance of Monk escaping when he's surrounded by some of the most despicable characters ever created - Coil, Hammerhead, Shrinkwrap, Taxman, and, yes, Glenn. Eventually Monks does manage to flee the compound, but he's caught, dragged back, beaten, and put in chains. Does he ever manage to escape and take the dying boy with him? As the story takes us on a dizzying course we realize that Freeboot's plan involves setting the have's in society against the have-nots, and thereby creating a revolution. Descriptions of a day in Bodega Bay, California, during which this fury is released are both real and utterly terrifying. Once again, Neil McMahon cuts close to the bone in this unnerving tale of terrorism. - Gail Cooke
In Northern California, Marguerite comes to the home of Dr. Carroll Monks asking for help with a flat tire. He goes to look, but inside the vehicle he recognizes a face he has not seen in five years, his estrange son Glenn. Before he can recover from his shock, Monks is tied up and placed on the floor of the SUV.--- A few hours later even deeper into the mountains, Monks meets 'Freeboot,' leader of an outlaw band who demands he cure his three-year ailing old son. Monks realizes that the infant needs intensive medical help and suggests hospitalizing the child. When Freeboot declines and threatens Monks if he fails to heal his son, the doctor decides flees with the child strapped to his back, but he is unaware of who his pursuer is. Freeboot knows he is the Revolution that will change the world forever and has killed VIPs across the nation leaving clues with the homeless. No one lives if they betray Freeboot and Monks and his loved ones are now his public enemy number one.--- In his fourth thriller, Monks is at his best as knows he lost his son, but will die to keep his opponent¿s boy alive. Thus the story line plays out on two levels: that of a national homicidal group reminiscent of the Manson crowd yet much more deviously Machiavellian and a local good vs. evil one on one match-up. The key that keeps this tale sharp is the villain, who is a believable lunatic. Freeboot and his lieutenant Taxman are TO THE BONE quite a BLOOD DOUBLE killing without remorse as the leader has a cause.--- Harriet Klausner