Torture does not a good story make.
After my ordeal in the hospital, I feel like I’ve had a taste of torture. I was confined to hospital bed with needles and lines all around me. I was poked, prodded, squeezed, deprived of food and sleep for twenty four hours. I must confess, I would have sold out pretty easily if someone had questioned me.
But, after reading “The Inquisitor” I am glad that Geiger was NOT one of my doctors.
“The Inquisitor” has created a lot of buzz on the book review circuit. It even got a good review on fictionaddict.com so I decided to give it a read. It is Mark Allen Smith’s debut novel and I must admit, I had a hard time putting it down after starting the book. I was even reading it while strapped into my hospital bed waiting for my heart catheterization.
First, let me state that this book is NOT a Christian fiction book. It has plenty of questionable language and violence. However, it is a redemptive story with an interesting plot development with multiple characters.
So, here are the characters:
Harry is a once homeless man down on his luck who made a living by being very good at research. One day while being beaten up in Central Park, a strange man comes by and rescues him. He later starts to work with Geiger in the IR (see below). Harry has a schizophrenic, quite insane sister, Lilly.
Dr. Corley is a psychiatrist suffering from extreme loneliness after his wife of many years has left him. He is intrigued by his very strange and enigmatic client, Geiger. Geiger came to him to help with understanding a series of strange dreams. But, Geiger will ONLY talk about his dreams, not his life.
Carmine is a mobster type who needed information one day and Geiger offered to help. Geiger was so effective at IR (Information Retrieval) that he became one of Carmine’s main clients and now gets referrals from Carmine on a regular basis.
Cat is Geiger’s one eyed cat.
Geiger is the central fascinating character of this story. He is known as “the Inquisitor” for his uncanny ability to retrieve information through a modified form of torture. His technique is simple and normally does not involve physical pain. In fact, Geiger is torture. He has the most bizarre personality of any character I have read lately.
He has no memory of his childhood and has become a self made man in the field of IR. He lives in a strange house with no windows and a four by four foot closet in which he routinely assumes the fetal position while recovering from his frequent crippling migraines.
His appreciation of the real world and regular life is limited. He is isolated and very eclectic. The story begins with a session of IR for Geiger and we quickly see and appreciate his unusual form of “torture”. There is only one other alternative for his clients, a man who uses much more extreme forms of physical torture from which the victims do not recover. Geiger has more “finesse”.
The opening section of the book is fascinating as we meet Geiger and see him from the different points of view of those who work with him. And, we see him from the point of view of two “clients”. The story takes its exciting turn when Geiger is asked to retrieve information from a man and the client shows up with a box containing the man’s 12 year old son. For reasons that eventually become apparent are absolutely essential to understanding Geiger’s backstory, Geiger takes the boy and goes on the run. His clients turn against him. He becomes a fugitive as he tries to protect the kid.
There are wonderful scenes with this 12 year old and Geiger in his home. Culture clash is inevitable and the chemistry between the two is well written. The story moves on with quick action and, of course, Geiger ends up the focus of IR and, of course, the torturer is his rival.
The story does move to a satisfying, if not strange conclusion and the reader is left to wonder if Geiger will continue to succeed in IR or has his life changed forever by his encounter with this young boy.
The story is gripping. The action is unrelenting. The characters are very well developed and the chemistry between Geiger and the boy are well written, believable scenes. This is a good debut novel and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in action or thriller type stories. Just remember the language my be offensive to some readers and the torture scenes are very tense, if not overtly gory.
The author’s website is: http://markallensmith.com/