Reviewed by Eric Wilson
Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs
"Tim Downs has a winner with the Bugman novels."
As an avid reader, I love to discover series and lead characters that keep me guessing while providing consistent results. Tim Downs has a winner with the Bugman novels. Not only is Nick Polchak, the infamous "Bugman", a likeable if sometimes exasperating character, he has a way of finding trouble in different places. (Of course, with insects covering most of our planet, his possibilities are endless, aren't they?)
This time around, agroterrorism takes center stage, as international scientists and criminals come up with a way to undermine the US economy. Their hope is to cripple the greedy Americans, while enabling foreign survival. It's a grandiose idea, but entirely plausible--even frighteningly believable--in the capable hands of Tim Downs.
The plot begins to unfold when strange seedlings are found among some cannabis plants on the farm where a man has been found shot with a zip gun. The man's estranged wife calls in an old friend to investigate: the Bugman. Soon, the FBI is also involved, not to mention Alena, the woman with the cadaver dogs from the last Bugman novel. This sets up not only a great story with some underlying important themes, but also some romantic intrigues unlike any other in fiction. To even think of Nick Polchak in a "love triangle" is humorous--and, indeed, there are quite a few funny moments here.
As always, Downs gives us a thoroughly researched story that feels very human despite its protagonist who considers himself more insect-like. The supporting cast is full of zest and empathy, and while we do not get as much of the delightful "ick"-factor as normal, we get lots of development for future titles. To top it all, Downs gives readers a chance to have their say in that future.
I leave it to you to play your part...
Eric Wilson is the author of twelve novels that explore Earth's tension between heaven and hell, the latest of which is One Step Away, a twist on the story of Job. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters. Visit him online at his website.