Okay…so, full disclosure: even though this book was released by the same publisher that is releasing my novel and was written by a man who basically owes me his life for teaching him how to properly use his Square credit card reader despite never using one myself, this is still intended to be an honest and unbiased review. That being said, if I didn’t legitimately like the book, I just wouldn’t review it because I wouldn’t want to be a jerk. It’s kind of an unspoken (until now) policy of mine.
On to the review…
If you’ve ever wanted to read a seamless mash-up of spy thrillers and supernatural horror, you’re going to want to go ahead and stop reading this review and pick up Mister White right away. I never wanted to read something like that, to be perfectly honest. I’m personally not super familiar with the former genre (certainly not in its literary form), so I was initially skeptical I’d even enjoy the book when I first heard about it because it was outside of my usual taste zone. However, I would have been missing out big time. It’s good to branch out after all, kids.
Though there is a strong focus on the international world of espionage, the main plot deals with one spy in particular, Lewis Edgar, and the family he is somewhat estranged from. Sound kinda ho-hum so far? Well, throw in this mysterious force/demon/creature/supernatural being called Mister White (I honestly don’t know what the hell he is, but I’ll address that in a minute) who is out to get Mr. Edgar and his family, and I think you’ll discover something pretty darned interesting. And frequently terrifying. Like, seriously, can books have jump scares? Is that even legal? They’re pretty cheap moves in a filmic format, but pulling off something like that on the page is pretty amazing.
At times, this book is viscerally violent enough to please splatter fiends, and Foster pulls no punches in these scenes, but the book doesn’t rely solely on gore to get by. There are characters here worth caring about. Why? Because they are flawed and human. They make regretful decisions and do their best to rectify them (at least some of the time…not every loose end is neatly tied up, much like real life). However, I think Mister White’s primary strength is its pacing. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever made a statement like that about a book. Not because all other books lack pacing, but because this book would not be the same without its ShKAS speed. Mister White is a 256-page rollercoaster that delivers almost nonstop action without sacrificing story and character development. And, realistically, this would make one hell of a movie. I’m not sure if Foster wrote this book with this in mind, but I could picture almost every scene as a perfect image on the screen.
Now I must air a couple of grievances, albeit minor ones. First, the only real problem I had with the book (which may have been the one drawback of the frenetic pacing) is that I wasn’t always sure where in the world the characters were (like, literally where in the world). There seem to be various scenes taking place in various countries and spies of various nationalities, but at times I lost the sense of place. Perhaps this is completely normal for international spy thrillers and this is a case of reader failure. I do not know. Either way, not a huge deal. The only other thing that bothers me is Mister White is almost too shrouded in mystery. I definitely prefer this approach to the alternative (overexplaining everything about the character to the point the reader starts groaning as if they’ve just been taught a lesson they learned last week), but I would have liked just a few more details about his origins and intentions. I really want to know: Who is Mister White (I don’t think I’m supposed to say that…I think there’s some sort of Bloody Mary-type thing going on there that is also not fully explained). Perhaps there is a sequel in mind, and Foster is holding off on releasing some of these specifics until then? If so, I’ll let him slide. This time.
You will not be bored reading this book. The prose is tight, the pace is quick, the blood is red as an abattoir’s kill floor.