Monday, April 27, 2015

Review of 24 Declassified: Death Angel

Book #15.24 Declassified: Death Angel , by David Jacobs. Paperback. 

This is a prequel series, set before the first season of the TV show – and have since been “declassified.” In the mythology of the 24-verse, the counter-terrorism agency CTU was established after the 1993 World Trade Center attack. My understanding is that some of the novels take place before 9/11, although references to the Patriot Act place this one after those attacks.

Jack Bauer is investigating a potential spy at an atomic research labs in New Mexico. An international assassin called Annihilax has been linked to previous deaths in the area. The assassin was supposedly killed years before, but Jack believes the man’s signature on a number of deaths means that he is alive and active again. Bauer’s CTU superiors, as well as the FBI agents he is working with in New Mexico, don’t want to hear of any of his crazy theories. SO he works his case the way he wants to, leaving him on his own most of the time, and working against his colleagues some of the time.

The story is exciting and well-paced. A few terrific set pieces include a gunfight in a laser laboratory, and an attack on Bauer by a hotel maid. The eventual revelation of the identity of Annihilax was surprising to me, and interestingly enough, it was also a surprise to the characters in the book. And that is always a nice touch.

Mirroring the episodic structure of the TV show, the novel is broken up into 24 chapters, which is easier to maintain than 24 hours of TV. Some of the chapters did not include Jack Bauer at all, which is something that an episode of the show would never do. Some of the chapters only had one scene, again something the show would never do. Reading this, realizing that NOT every minute of every hour was covered in the novel, I realized what a writing accomplishment the show was. Of course, shortcuts were taken on the TV show, but the multiple story arcs and POV characters gave the illusion that the show was taking place in real time. The book does not make the same claim.

There were nice “Easter eggs” for fans of the TV show, including mentions of Kim, Nina, George Mason, and Ryan, as well as an appearance by Tony Almeida. The inclusion of these characters and other aspects of the “world” of 24 made the book stand out as not just another action-adventure novel, which other than that, it really was.

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