Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review of The Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp (2006, Allison and Busby)

A lowlife paedophile who gets his kicks fondling young children whilst working as Rambunctious Rabbit, the signature mascot of the global entertainment conglomerate Lamarr Enterprises, is found dead in the subterranean warren of service tunnels below the FamilyLand theme park. LAPD detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs are assigned to the case, immediately coming under political pressure to keep a low profile and the case out of the media. Soon another Lamarr employee is murdered, then a customer, and it appears as if somebody has a vendetta against the company, determined to drive down the stock price and put the company out of business. There are no shortage of potential suspects from disgruntled ex-employees, the son of one of the founding cartoonists swindled out of millions of shares, and the rivals of a casino owned by the mob who have signed a partnership agreement to create a Lamarr themed, family friendly complex in Las Vegas. Lomax and Biggs not only have to investigate a series of killings that are very carefully plotted and try and keep the murders out of the media to stop mass hysteria, they have to stay in the game as other agencies look to take the case away from them.

The Rabbit Factory was an enjoyable read and from about halfway through became a real page turner where, despite being heavily jetlagged and desperately needing sleep, I kept on going wanting to find out what happened next. Lomax and Biggs are engaging characters and the story was generally well plotted with some nice twists. The scale of the story is perhaps what’s most impressive and in particular how Karp envisages how a global conglomerate can be speedily bought to its knees. This is not to say that book is not without issues. For example, at over 600 pages the book is too long and could have done with a relatively severe edit, at least trimming 75-100 pages. This in part is caused by an unevenness in the pacing of the story - the start of the book is quite wordy, with each day taking up a fair few pages, but by the end of the book days pass relatively quickly. In addition, the subplot focusing on Lomax’s wayward brother could have gone as it had no bearing on the core of the story, plus some of the over-elaborate back stories to relatively minor characters such as the Israeli visitor who does a cameo and then is never referred to again.

The cover blurb compares Karp to Carl Hiaasen and suggests that he’s funnier. I’m not sure I’d go along with that. Hiaasen is a lot more screwball and farce-based with a cast of oddball characters. Karp has a wise-cracking cop, some witty dialogue in places, and a light touch, otherwise it’s a fairly straight police procedural. Overall a fun read and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series, Blood Thirsty.

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks for your review - quite thoughtful and informative! I agree that subplots and back stories that don't have a real bearing on the story are best minimized. Too much focus on them is, in my opinion, distracting.