Ridley Pearson,
Parallel Lies
(Hyperion, 2001)

In this mystery, freight trains from a major corporation have been derailing every six to eight weeks. The company has been attributing the derailings to mechanical failures and/or negligent driving; however, the NTSB is suspicious enough to hire Jack Tyler, an ex-DC homicide detective, to look into things. Tyler brings along baggage, having been fired from his DC job for nearly beating a black man to death in a child abuse case. Things rapidly pick up as he meets Nell Priest, a successful black security agent for the train company, and they come across another security agent who was been brutally murdered. While the two partners begin to work on their case, the train wrecker systematically works his way towards the ultimate train wreck -- the new F.A.S.T. train.

While the novel is generally a quick, entertaining and easy read, with short and simple sentences and chapters, I was not thrilled about how the characters were portrayed. For instance, with the exception of Nell, there were no strong female characters -- the women were all either prostitutes or trophy wives. Latinos, blacks and other minorities were constantly portrayed as the criminials who, because of their mistakes, were always bound to be captured by their smarter, lighter-skinned (though not necessarily white) counterparts. This book was an entertaining diversion from my other, more dense reading, but do not expect to get any thought material out of this one.

[ by Melissa Kowalewski ]
Rambles: 9 March 2002

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