Monday, April 2, 2007

Head Game – Tim Downs

Tim Downs jumped into the fray of suspense writing with his Bug Man novels in 2003. He exploded with last year’s Plague Maker. And now the former cartoonist and writer of the comic strip Downstown has come into his own.

Cale Caldwell is an up and coming ad man who returns to his childhood home of Charlotte to slow the pace of life for his family. Having recently lost his wife, Cale is struggling to be a good father for his young daughter. Grace resents her new school and new friends who become mere acquaintances because of her mother’s untimely death in an automobile accident. And then the bottom falls out. Cale is faced with the news of his boyhood friend’s suicide, a possible lawsuit alleging that his docile family pet has savagely bitten a stranger, and now Grace disappears. With the help of his friend and former colleague in the Fourth Psychological Operations Group (4POG), Cale tries to iron it all out. Their information leads them to believe that Cale is the target of a vengeance-seeking officer who lost half of his troops in a leaflet-driven exodus of personnel from the front-lines in Kuwait during Desert Storm.

Characters are well-developed and action is exciting in this tale of intrigue and psychological puppetry. It is often difficult to determine who is truly in control. The twists and turns are sometimes unexpected, sometimes broadcast, and always welcome. Utilizing his artistic talents, Downs introduces this work to us with a six-page graphic depiction of the suicide note left for Cale’s benefit at his friend Kirby’s New York apartment. This is another page-turner that you won’t want to miss. It’s another edition in the new genre born out of the old Christian Fiction model. This new genre is one that will impress all readers of good fiction. Without the preaching of Christian fiction of only a decade and a half ago, new authors are telling an intriguing story that also is absent the gutter language and scenes that have long been the standard of mainstream publishing. Downs is an author to watch.

—Benjamin Potter, April 2, 2006

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