Deadline Man by Jon Talton


I hadn’t heard of Jon Talton before receiving the copy of his latest thriller, but you can bet that I will be searching out more of his backlist now that I have read this brilliantly written novel.

Just from reading the back cover blurb I was interested in this book, but all too often I am disappointed by promises made by some publisher on the back cover of a book. In many cases it isn’t fair to the author either. If the back blurb is promising one thing and the book delivers another, then the readers will immediately think that the author failed in their delivery, when it probably isn’t even what the author had intended…. Anyway, I digress, I read the blurb with a huge grain of salt. Right from the opening scene we are in the middle of the action.

Mr. Talton hasn’t wasted our time with prologues or flashbacks or a lot of backstory. He drops us right in the middle of the action just like a great thriller should. From there we are treated to a well-paced, clever, and heart-racing thriller. I have been stuck in the rut of simply staying with authors I know to deliver great thrillers. Now I know that great thrillers are out there, and not just from the selected few who are the blockbuster bestsellers. It was a real treat for me to discover a new thriller writer. But make no mistake, Mr. Talton is not a first time author. He has written 8 previous novels, and it certainly shows in his pacing, plotting, and tension.
He is the writer of 8 previous novels, which include the David Mapstone mysteries as well as The Pain Nurse. He has also been an editor and columnist for the Dayton Daily News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Rocky Mountain News, Charlotte Observer, and Arizona Republic.
But as for Deadline Man, Mr. Talton has hit all the right targets with his gripping first page, right through to the climactic ending. As I said above, his pacing is excellent, and he has managed to keep the intensity growing right up until the very end. As we make our way through the story, we are never told the protagonist’s name, a clever trick perhaps? At times it was somewhat irritating, as it was unclear as to why this little device was employed for this story. Was it to try and make it seem that this could happen to anyone, or is it meant to further distance the reader from the narrator, I was never quite sure.
The author also uses an interesting technique at the beginning of select chapters of talking about certain techniques and processes involved in being a columnist/newspaper writer and how to shape and write an article. While I enjoyed these little beginnings, they weren’t carried on all the way through the story and it wasn’t clear if this was just because he ran out of things to talk about at the beginning of the chapters, or if he simply became bored with the idea, I know I was. The unfortunate thing is that it just simply failed from the perspective of the reader. It was a great idea that just didn’t deliver and then just seemed to stop, for no apparent reason.
I don’t want the above items to sound like too much of a distraction or to overshadow the main story. Besides these two things, the story really is excellent, I found it hard to put the book down even when it was 2 or 3 in the morning. Riveting, and fast paced, this book never stops for a breath as the unnamed lead character takes you on a journey that goes beyond a great story for a newspaper. This goes well into the realm of saving the entire paper, perhaps even the entire industry, once you understand the deeper meaning behind the story. The writers themselves are finding it harder and harder to find jobs these days as one paper after the other simply stops operation, succumbing to the online presence that you either get onboard with, or go under while fighting it.
This was a great stand-alone thriller obviously written by someone who’s been to this dance before. He knows the moves, and he executes them with style and confidence. Mr. Talton really should be better known than he is in my humble estimation. He can spin a tale far better than most who inhabit the regular places on the bestseller lists. Maybe it’s time he had his due. More people should know him, so I’m spreading this to all who will listen. Jon Talton is a great thriller writer. Go forth and tell others. There, that was easy.
Now you go do the same….
Jon Talton is the author of the David Mapstone Mysteries, this novel Deadline Man, and now the beginning of a new series, The Cincinnati Casebooks. He currently lives in Seattle where he is economics columnist for the Seattle Times.
~todd
The Hurley Edition
*special thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for providing the advance readers copy of this novel.
Deadline Man
Pub Date: May 2010
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Author website: http://www.jontalton.com
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