Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction
Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.
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From the cover:
In the shadowy world of international espionage and governmental black ops, when a group of American spies go bad and inadvertently unleash an ancient malevolent force that feeds on the fears of mankind, a young family finds themselves in the crosshairs of a frantic supernatural mystery of global proportions with only one man to turn for their salvation.
Combine the intricate, plot-driven stylings of suspense masters Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum, add a healthy dose of Clive Barker’s dark and brooding occult horror themes, and you get a glimpse into the supernatural world of international espionage that the chilling new horror novel MISTER WHITE is about to reveal.
Who is Mister White?
Opening with a question is always a good reel-in tactic, especially when that question remains at the tip of everyone’s tongues—character and reader alike—throughout the entire book.
There is no lead up here. Foster drops the reader in middle of the action while the plot moves too fast to give the reader time to ask questions. Answers? Who needs ‘em when you’ve got a monster hot on your trail? The characters are terrified and, without really knowing why, we are too.
The Best of it:
There is a consistent fear built up over the mysterious Mister White without every truly revealing who or what he is and what his motivation is. He’s a faceless thing who kills with reckless abandon, giving no warning except the ringing of a phone. It takes particular skill to instill the kind of tension woven throughout MISTER WHITE without giving our fear a face.
Less noticeable but still remarkable is the fact that while the main characters are part of a secret agent type organization (there’s no spoiler here; it says espionage on the cover for goodness sake) there is little to no time spent on the inner-workings of the agency and what roles the characters play within it. We’re given just enough information to accept the backstory and leap forward into the plot as it happens.
The Worst of it:
But while we’re pulled along at a break-neck pace, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to get to know the characters well enough to truly care about whether they live or die, with the exception of someone I’ll mention below. This somewhat hinders the intended effect of the killing blows, giving a kind of formulaic resolution rather than revulsion. It becomes easy and almost imperative to breeze past them and onto Mister White’s latest chase.
Yeah, But What if it Were a Movie?
Because this book reminded me so much of TAKEN in terms of pace and sheer brutality, I’d cast Liam Neeson in Lewis’s role. His wife, Cat (who I found to be highly unlikeable, though she probably wasn’t meant that way), would be best portrayed by Elizabeth Tulloch. Their daughter, with her wiccan ways and refreshingly authentic badassery, I’d love to see played by Maisie Williams. Finally, bulky, broken Uncle Gerard would be played by Jeff Bridges.
Gerard, while not the main character, is by the far the most developed and (for me) most beloved of the characters in MISTER WHITE. His past is painful enough to give him depth, but distanced enough for his demeanor and subsequent actions to be believable. He’s a hero without meaning to be, which, in my opinion, is the best kind.
The ending isn’t what you’d call controversial, but I can promise the reactions will be divided. While far from being tied up in a little bow, the final scenes deliver just enough in the way of finality to be satisfying without diminishing the tension and horror Foster developed throughout the narrative. I say divided because, well, you’ll have to read it to find out.
What I appreciated most about this book was Foster’s break-neck initial pace and firm commitment to it. In the end, all you can do is collapse with the characters’ collective exhaustion and hope to the gods the phone doesn’t ring.