Cover image for Darwin's blade : [a novel of suspense]
Title:
Darwin's blade : [a novel of suspense]
Author:
Simmons, Dan.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
368 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780380973699
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

In his previous novel--the masterful, critically acclaimed thriller "The Crook Factory--Dan Simmons led readers back to a volatile era and an exotic locale. Now he brings his utterly original brand of riveting suspense closer to home.Darwin's BladeAt any hour of the day or night, Darwin Minor is on call to be summoned to accident scenes that strain belief--horrifying tableaux of mangled metal and bodies. As an expert in accident reconstruction, Darwin uses science and instinct to unravel the real causes of unnatural disasters, and he is brilliant at it.But even though his life is carefully arranged to avoid emotional involvement in his work--and outside of work, for that matter--everything is about to change. A series of seemingly random high-speed car accidents is suddenly leading him down a very dangerous road. The accidents seem staged, but the participants have all died, and though Dar suspects a grand conspiracy, why would anyone commit fraud at the cost of his own life?The deeper he digs, the more enemies he seems to make--deadly enemies who are part of an international network specializing in intimidation and murder. But Darwin Minor has some deadly resources of his own, dating back to a time in his life he thought he'd left behind. And if he wants to save himself--and untold others--he must reopen a dark door into his past.One of America's most talented, original, and versatile


Author Notes

Science fiction writer Dan Simmons was born in East Peoria, Illinois in 1948. He graduated from Wabash College in 1970 and received an M. A. from Washington University the following year.

Simmons was an elementary school teacher and worked in the education field for a decade, including working to develop a gifted education program.

His first successful short story was won a contest and was published in 1982. His first novel, Song of Kali, won a World Fantasy Award, and Simmons has also won a Theodore Sturgeon Award for short fiction, four Bram Stoker Awards, and eight Locus Awards. He is also the author of the Hyperion series, and Simmons and his work have been compared to Herbert's Dune and Asimov's Foundation series.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Call it a minitrend: last year James Thayer wrote Terminal Event, a thriller about a former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator whose skepticism about an alleged accident got him more than he bargained for. Now Simmons has written a thriller about an exNTSB investigator, the colorfully named Darwin Minor, whose skepticism about a series of alleged accidents gets him more than he bargained for. This is an excellent novel. Dar Minor, whose life (like that of Thayer's protagonist) was forever changed when his wife was killed in an aircraft disaster, is an interesting and engaging character, a bit like Jeffrey Deaver's surly but likable Lincoln Rhymes. He makes his living working for an insurance company, reconstructing accidents to see if they might not be so accidental; when he looks into a series of suspicious auto crashes, he unwittingly puts his own life on the line. Simmons packs the novel with fascinating technical information about accident reconstruction (there are even a few mathematical formulas, if you're so inclined); don't be surprised if you come away from this book with what might appear to be an unhealthy interest in accidents. A strong, thoroughly intelligent novel^-welcome relief from thrillers that offer nothing more than action scenes strung together. --David Pitt


Publisher's Weekly Review

H"Stupidity kills. Absolute stupidity kills absolutely." Simmons, who has moved effortlessly from horror (Children of the Night) to science fiction (Hyperion; Endymion) to thrillers (The Crook Factory) obviously had a lot of fun writing this gripping suspense thriller about automobile insurance fraud rackets in Southern California. Former NTSB investigator Dr. Darwin Minor (Ph.D., physics) is the best at what he does. As the country's leading "accident reconstruction specialist," Darwin has saved the insurance industry millions, as well as solving the most confounding cases of vehicular stupidity. But suddenly, he finds himself the target of assassins, resulting in a wild car chase that is only the first of many spellbinding set pieces. Is Darwin being targeted for business reasons, or is the attack somehow tied to the ongoing federal investigation of the Alliance, a Russian mafia-type group that specializes in staging accidents to perpetrate insurance fraud? A delightfully bizarre inside joke concerns the "Darwin Awards," which celebrate those who improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it, like the young man who attempts to break the land speed record by attaching a couple of rockets to his '82 El Camino and ends up splattered on a cliff face hundreds of feet above the highway. In the course of the novel, Darwin investigates several accident scenes that duplicate either Darwin Award-winning demises or urban legends. A breezy writing style, rollicking humor and ingenious descriptions of weird accidents make this action-packed thriller a real winner. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Darwin Minor earns his living by reconstructing car accidents for insurance companies, but his examination of a collision near Los Angeles spirals into an investigation of a string of high-speed wrecks. Someone is killing a lot of people, and Dar's investigations place him high on the hit list. Tracked by Russian assassins, Dar draws on hidden resources to survive. With his girlfriend, the state's chief investigator, he sets a trap for them. The ensuing shootout delivers all that could be expected. Simmons made his name on horror thrillers, but in Darwin's Blade, he shows a knack as well for the high-tech, high-voltage action thriller. Offering an appealing hero and heroine, deadly villains, zippy dialog, and high-tech weaponry and expertise, this is, most of all, a hair-raising adventure to satisfy the most discriminating reader. Heartily recommended for all general collections.ÄDavid Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Darwin's Blade Chapter One "A is for Hole" The Phone Rang a few minutes after four in the morning. "You like accidents, Dar. You owe it to yourself to comesee this one." "I don't like accidents," said Dar. He did not ask who was calling. He recognized Paul Cameron's voice even though he and Cameron had not been in touch for over a year. Cameron was a CHP officer working out of Palm springs. "All right, then," said Cameron, "You like puzzles." Dar swiveled to read his clock. "Not at four-oh-eight A.M.," he said. "This one's worth it." The connection sounded hollow, as if it were a radio patch or a cell phone. "Where?" "Montezuma Valley Road," said Cameron. "Just a mile inside the canyon, where S22 comes out of the hills into the desert." "Jesus Christ," muttered Dar. "You're talking Borrego Springs. It would take me more than ninety minutes to get there." "Not if you drive your black car," said Cameron, his chuckle blending with the rasp and static of the poor connection. "What kind of accident would bring me almost all the way to Borrego Springs before breakfast?" said Dar, sitting up now. "Multiple vehicle?" "We don't know," said Officer Cameron. His voice still sounded amused. "What do you mean you don't know? Don't you have anyone at the scene yet?" "I'm calling from the scene," said Cameron through the static. "And you can't tell how many vehicles were involved?" Dar found himself wishing that he had a cigarette in the drawer of his bedside table. He had given up smoking ten years earlier, just after the death of his wife, but he still got the craving at odd times. "We can't even ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt what kind of vehicle or vehicles was or were involved," said Cameron, his voice taking on that official, strained-syntax, preliterate lilt that cops used when speaking in their official capacity. "You mean what make?" said Dar. He rubbed his chin, heard the sandpaper scratch there, and shook his head. He had seen plenty of high-speed vehicular accidents where the make and model of the car were not immediately apparent. Especially at night. "I mean we don't know if this is a car, more than one car, a plane or a fucking UFO crash," said Cameron. "If you don't see this one Darwin, you'll regret it for the rest of your days." "What do you..." Dar began, and stopped. Cameron had broken the connection. Dar swung his legs over the edge of the bed, looked out at the dark beyond the glass of his tall condo windows, muttered, "Shit," and got up to take a fast shower. It took him two minutes less than an hour to drive there from San Diego, pushing the Acura NSX hard through the canyon turns, slamming it into high gear on the long straights, and leaving the radar detector in the tiny glove compartment because he assumed that all of the highway patrol cars working S22 would be at the scene of the accident. It was paling toward sunrise as he began the long 6-percent grade, four-thousand-foot descent past Ranchita toward Borrega Springs and the Anza-Borrega Desert. One of the problems with being an accident reconstruction specialist, Dar was thinking as he shifted the NSX into third and took a decreasing radius turn effortlessly, with only the throaty purr of the exhaust marking the deceleration and then the shift back up to speed, is that almost every mile of every damned highway holds the memory of someone's fatal stupidity . The NSX roared up a low rise in the predawn glow and then growled down the long, twisty descent into the canyon some miles below. There, thought Dar, glancing quickly at an unremarkable stretch of old single-height guardrail set on wooden posts flashing past on the outside of a tight turn. Right there. A little more than five years ago, Dar had arrived at that point only thirty-five minutes after a school bus had struck that stretch of old guardrail, scraped along it for more than sixty feet, and plunged over the embankment, rolled three times down the steep, boulder-strewn hillside, and had come to rest on its side, with its shattered roof in the narrow stream below. The bus had been owned by the Desert Springs School District and was returning from an "Eco-Week" overnight camping trip in the mountains, carrying forty-one sixth-grade students and two teachers. When Dar arrived, ambulances and Flight-For-Life helicopters were still carrying off seriously injured children, a mob of rescue workers was handing litters hand over hand up the rocky slope, and yellow plastic tarps covered at least three small bodies on the rocks below. When the final tally came in, six children and one teacher were dead, twenty-four students were seriously injured -- including one boy who would be a paraplegic for the rest of his life -- and the bus driver received cuts, bruises, and a broken left arm. Dar was working for the NTS13 then -- it was the year before he quit the National Transportation Safety Board to go to work as an independent accident reconstruction specialist. That time the call came to his condo in Palm Springs. For days after the accident, Dar watched the media coverage of the "terrible tragedy." The L.A. television stations and newspapers had decided early on that the bus driver was a heroine -- and their coverage reflected that stance. The driver's postcrash interview and other eyewitness testimony, including that of the teacher who had been sitting directly behind one of the children who had perished, certainly suggested as much. All agreed that the brakes had failed about one mile after the bus began its long, steep descent. The driver, a forty-one-year-old divorced mother of two, had shouted at... Darwin's Blade . Copyright © by Dan Simmons. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Darwin's Blade by Dan Simmons All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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