book cover of The Black Sun
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The Black Sun

(The second book in the Tom Kirk series)
A novel by

James Twining's The Black Sun triumphantly proves that his impressive debut novel, The Double Eagle, was no fluke--this second outing for his engaging protagonist Tom Kirk is actually more assured than the first one, and is proof that the gameplan created by the author for his character is spooling out very nicely indeed.

A whole year has passed since art thief Tom Kirk made a resolution to abjure his criminal activities. But--it goes without saying--he finds himself unable to entirely leave his old life behind (after all, Twining would have no book in that the case). Three major art thefts occur, while in London a survivor of the death camps is killed in hospital. His murderers have removed a grisly relic from the crime scene: the dead man's left arm. Soon, Kirk finds himself drawn into a mystifying (and highly dangerous) situation, with yet another element complicating the already labyrinthine plot: a gang has broken into the NSA museum and made off with a decoding machine.

Crime and thriller aficionados often play the game of defining those two genres, and while there are significant crimes in Twining's highly entertaining novel, it's the thriller format's international dimension that adds an extra vigour, an element Twining exploits with the brio that marks out the very best thriller writers. One senses a certain Dan Brown syndrome here (and that probably won't do James Twining's sales any harm), but he remains very much his own man, and if Brown has virtually hijacked certain thriller motifs, that's no reason for other novelists not to utilise them -- particularly when they are as well handled as they are in The Black Sun.

--Barry Forshaw

Genre: Thriller

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