The name of David Wellington’s novel is “Chimera: A Jim Chapel Mission.” Now that is certainly a novel novel name: Not a “Jim Chapel Mystery” or “…Story” or “…Adventure” — but “Mission,” pure and simple.
And that is an accurate description. Jim Chapel spends virtually the entire 424 pages single-mindedly pursuing the very very vile (and, incidentally, definitely virulent) villains. And the pursuit is a near Mission Impossible because the people he is chasing are not even people.
They are, in essence, modern-day Frankenstein monsters created, of course, by a modern-day, brain-addled Dr. Frankenstein. But in this Mission-Near-Impossible, it is the pursuer rather than the tape that is likely to self-destruct.
And this is one driven pursuer. Jim Chapel is a soldier’s soldier. As he chases down the stronger-and-faster-than-any-human monsters, he comes THISCLOSE to getting slaughtered himself. Each semi-climactic point, each actual encounter with the monsters — called here Chimeras — is an exciting, superbly rendered action piece.
But the real climax involves Chapel’s tracking down the mastermind, the one who has freed the monsters from the prison in which they had been held and who now gives them their killing-orders. The plot does become a bit labyrinthine as it unfolds, but the resulting slight confusion never detracts from the excitement of the action sequences.
Although Chapel is entirely single-minded, his quest is not single-handed. He is aided throughout by a gorgeous and amazingly tough female veterinarian whose medical prowess comes in very handy throughout the novel; and he also has the help of a ubiquitous human angel named Angel. She is a computer hacker whom he never sees but who sees everything he sees as if she were stationed on his shoulder. So she is a guiding guardian angel.
The characterizations of Chapel and his girlfriend are a bit over-wrought and over-written. Both are too good, too tough, too brave, and too much like two love-struck teenagers. But what the heck. The terrific action renders those flaws almost moot. This is a good and entertaining read, first page to last.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, William Morrow, for review purposes.
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