Monday, June 6, 2011

NICK OF TIME by Tim Downs

This is without a doubt one of the most entertaining books I've read in a long time. Storyline, writing style, characterization, message—it's got it all. I knew after two chapters that even if I hated the rest of the book, it was still well worth the cover price; a safe assertion, as I was certain that worst-case scenario would not materialize. And of course it didn't.

Dr. Nick Polchak is a quirky, single-track-minded forensic entomologist with a sardonic wit as dry as the months-old puparia littering his college professor's desk, his car, and his life. Uh huh, forensic entomologist—solving crimes one bug at a time. He and Raleigh Harmon would get along famously, probably be engaged by the end of their second week if they didn't kill each other by the end of the first.

Oops. Strike that last sentence. Nick's already engaged. You're safe, Raleigh.

Meet Nick's fiancée, Alena Savard. Just-as-quirky Alena lives alone on the top of a hill. Well, almost alone. She has 41 dogs, at last count. And she trains them. No, not like rolling over and playing dead, but rather like pinpointing where someone else has rolled over and really died. Fun stuff like that. Oh, and she's r-e-a-l-l-y good at it. One snap of the fingers and a subtle hand motion, and one of her dogs could probably finish typing this review faster and better than I can. (Okay, no wisecracks necessary...)

Nick's proposal of marriage to Alena shocked them both. And he's pretty sure that he really wants to be married. It's the 'pretty' part that gets him into trouble. The week of his wedding, when it appears that one of his friends and colleagues is murdered, Nick figures he has enough time to do some sleuthing out of respect to his friend and still be back in plenty of time for the ceremony. Alena is less confident both that he really wants to be married and that he will make it back in time.

So the stage is set for a rollercoaster ride of a tale that has you laughing out loud on one page (multiple times) and sobering under a subtle revelation of human nature on the next. A huge twist toward the end brings you to a screeching halt, gives you a moment to scratch your head in disbelief, and then plunges off at bumblebee velocity in a completely different direction with you in hot pursuit.

If you enjoy a great crime thriller laced seamlessly with insightful human interest, and one that is pristinely written for the genre and voice, there is simply no other option than to get this book. You just can't not read it. Go ahead. Try me. See if I'm wrong.

Note: despite what I said about being worth the cover price, I'm obligated to mention that Thomas Nelson sent me this copy free of charge to review. It was a good move on their part, because they've garnered at least one more Tim Downs fan who will be purchasing more of his books quite promptly.
—Bruce Judisch

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