Patrick Lee (www.patrickleefiction.com)
There are authors I read because I thoroughly enjoy their work, and they provide me with meaty substance that keeps me reading for days or weeks. There are other authors whose work I enjoy, but for an entirely different reason: they give me a sense of escapism, it’s like watching a fast-paced movie as you read through the words on the page. They usually produce hefty-looking tomes with chapters that span a page and a half or two pages, and frequently end each and every chapter with a hook to keep me reading! (some, James Patterson, are more blatant about this than others, but they all do it to some degree).
I picked up THE BREACH because it looked like a great ride: a man, whose past we know nothing about, except that he has spent the past decade and a half in prison, is hiking in the wilderness of Alaska. Three days out from the nearest sign of civilisation, he comes across a crashed, plain white, Boeing 747 and finds, upon investigation, that all of its occupants – including the First Lady of the United States of America – have been mercilessly slaughtered. From there, he encounters the two surviving members of the plane’s crew, being brutally tortured in a clearing not too far distant. Within minutes, this seemingly innocuous man is toting M16s in a way that would put Sylvester Stallone to shame, and manages to save one of the prisoners – a good-looking young woman (as if you didn’t know) who works for a top secret organisation called Tangent.
Tangent, it turns out, was formed to protect and investigate a strange breach that has opened 51 storeys beneath Wyoming, a gateway to another world which drops three to four entities – pieces of seemingly-alien technology – a day from some unknown time or place. It turns out that the most dangerous of these – the Whisper, which has the ability to control whoever is holding it – has been stolen, along with a couple of other very convenient entities, by a former Tangent employee who is now set on taking control of the Breach and, it seems, the world.
That’s the set-up. The rest, as you can imagine, is fairly predictable. Travis Chase, the man who started out as a hiker and ended up as Rambo on crack, joins Tangent, shoots people, uses different pieces of alien technology to get out of various precarious situations. Luckily, the breach seems to have produced exactly the right set of entities to make sure that Travis makes it out the other end, which is all very convenient. And, of course, Travis falls in love with Paige – the aforementioned young lady – and manages to get her into bed in the middle of all the excitement, horror and explosions. Again, as if you didn’t see that coming. It all builds inexorably towards the climax which, it turns out, is more of an anti-climax that leaves something of a sour aftertaste.
It goes without saying that Lee’s novel requires the suspension of disbelief for the duration. Like the books of Matthew Reilly, it moves with a breakneck pace and manages to keep the reader entertained throughout, despite the fact that you’re likely to spend most of the novel wanting to throw it across the room in disgust. One for a plane journey, then, or a trip to the b(r)each. Just don’t expect anything highbrow or believable. This is the literary equivalent of a Jason Statham movie, and it is advised that you check your brain at the door for maximum enjoyment.