The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Miriam is on the road again, having transitioned from ‘thief’ to ‘killer’.
Hired by a wealthy businessman, she heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she’s good at, but in her vision she sees him die by another’s hand and on the wall written in blood is a message just for Miriam. She’s expected…”
It surprises me that I like the Miriam Black novels as much as I do, because I’m normally not much for intense, graphic violence. Thankfully, Wendig has skirted the fine line between “just enough” and “too much” as far as the gore and sheer horror is concerned. And in this particular novel, the nastiness has toned down just a bit to give room for some great character development.
Fans of the series will remember Miriam’s anger at the way she was brought up, and specifically her anger at her mother, who stifled Miriam with religious beliefs that she didn’t share. In this book, Miriam finally re-establishes contact with her mother under some stressful circumstances, and she finds out that her mother isn’t anything like how she remembered her. Mrs. Black has changed dramatically, and some of the best parts of the book showcase Miriam trying to reconcile her memories with this new reality.
I really like how Wendig structured the book, with Miriam being interviewed by FBI agents as a framing device for the main plot. It echoes the first book, Blackbird, which used a similar structure to introduce Miriam’s story. In this case, it helps to heighten the tension as she slowly tells the story of the past several days of her life and how she ended up where she is. It also allows for some misdirection that lets the author surprise readers, even though you’re going to think you know how everything plays out.
There’s also reference to the first book in the form of a character from that story who returns to Miriam’s life. This person has gained a power, the ability to know in advance what a person is going to do. It allows him to dodge bullets, evade traps, and generally stay several steps ahead of anybody that’s after him. It keeps Miriam scrambling to try to prevent him from carrying out his plans.
This is black comedy at its finest—dark like the best dark chocolate that has more bitter than sweet, but you still savor it. The Cormorant is bloody, violent, and unapologetically crude, but nevertheless it’s an awesome story that you’ll find hard to put down.