Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Cordell Logan Thrillers by David Freed

The Cordell Logan Series
by David Freed

1. Flat Spin • 2. Fangs Out
3. Voodoo Ridge • 4. Three-Line Nine

Flat Spin
Flat Spin (Cordell Logan #1)
My rating:         Mystery / Thriller
Source: Publisher (direct)

Logan was a government assassin. Now he's retired, divorced, and struggling to make ends meet as a freelance flying instructor. When his ex-wife turns up, recently widowed, and asks him to tell the police what kind of work he and her late husband used to do together, he won't even admit that they were ever involved with clandestine operations.

Logan is far from being a stereotypical hero, but he's likeable and sympathetic, and above all realistic. He has a sharp tongue (which doesn't make him many friends), vague aspirations towards Buddhism, and an antisocial cat - but he's also got a fiercely determined streak which comes out when he realises that, whether due to conspiracy or incompetence, the police simply aren't going to catch whoever killed Arlo.

Flat Spin is an intriguing mystery, with plenty of action as Logan tries to figure out what's going on by more or less direct methods of interrogation - trying all the while to avoid explaining himself to his ex-wife. From flight scenes to fight scenes, everything is described with vivid detail and colourful metaphor. There's plenty of suspense in these pages, but also no shortage of humour to lighten the mood, making for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Fangs Out
Fangs Out (Cordell Logan #2)
My rating:         Mystery / Thriller
Source: Publisher (direct)

I've been looking forwards to David Freed's follow-up to the wonderful Flat Spin ever since I heard that there was going to be one. And this is a worthy sequel, which I suspect would read equally well as a stand-alone thriller.

The main character (I hesitate to call him a hero), Logan, is as grumpy as ever. Armed with backchat that's less rapier wit and more unwieldy bludgeon, he somehow still manages to be charming despite his talent for offending. His clumsy attempts to reconcile with ex-wife Savannah made me flip regularly between wanting to give him a reassuring hug, and wanting to slap him across the face for her. On the other hand, he shows real, unconditional affection towards his antisocial cat and his elderly landlady, proving that the hard man really does have a heart.

Strapped for cash, Logan reluctantly takes on what should be a simple PI-style job to supplement his almost-nonexistent flight instructor's income. Investigating the circumstances around the death of a fellow pilot's daughter, he's only supposed to find some press-friendly tidbits to confirm the verdict the courts have already established. It's a short flight to San Diego, and Logan is invited to stay rent-free with the victim's father, so he sets out with high hopes of easy money. But from the start, things just don't add up, and it will take all of Logan's skill to get him out of San Diego alive.

Freed's writing sucks you right in to the action, and is informed by obviously thorough knowledge of everything from the technical details of flight to the grim depths of human psychology.

Voodoo Ridge
Voodoo Ridge (Cordell Logan #3)
My rating:         Mystery / Thriller
Source: Publisher (direct)

Freed returns with a third instalment of the excellent Cordell Logan series, and I think it's fair to say this is the grimmest, most heart-wrenching novel in the series so far. (In fact, I'd go so far as to say it would be hard to outdo in future volumes.)

It's also really hard to review without spoilers, so this will of necessity be brief.

Flying up to Lake Tahoe to remarry his ex-wife, Logan spots what looks like aircraft debris in the mountains. As any concerned citizen would, he reports it to the authorities, and finds himself drawn in to assisting the police and the local rescue team with their search. He apologises profusely to Savannah, but what's a day or two's delay to their wedding, if lives might be at stake? Although he couldn't have predicted it this is, without a doubt, the worst decision he's ever made.

Logan has always struggled to reconcile his violent past with his Buddhist aspirations, and circumstances always seem to force him into situations where further violence is the only way out. Even though his heart is in the right place, this could easily make him unsympathetic, but I challenge anyone to read this book with dry eyes.

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