Six years have passed since The Fletcher’s survived the deadly flu pandemic that ravished the world and turned their suburban neighborhood into a war zone, pitting neighbor against neighbor. THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC was Konkoly’s breakout novel, winning praise (and controversy alike) for its realistic and heartbreaking depiction of one family trying to keep itself quarantined during the worst of the contagion.
His new novel centers round a mysterious event off the Northeast coast while the Fletcher’s are relaxing on their sailboat anchored out in Portland’s harbor. Having just delivered their eldest off to Boston University for his first year of college, Alex and his wife experience both the joy and sadness of watching a child leave the roost. But that’s where the wistful tone of this novel stops and the action begins.
This slow burn of nostalgia doesn’t last very long. Once Alex observes the streak across the sky, this novel takes off like a drag racer. Be sure to strap yourself in beforehand because the action is non-stop and utterly riveting. The event causes a tsunami, which Alex is keen enough to anticipate, allowing he and his family to escape the massive wave heading toward the coast of Maine. Now I’ve never been in a tsunami before, but Konkoly’s description of this catastrophe is so real and vivid that I felt as if I was in the sailboat next to Alex, experiencing the sea splashing into my face as the boat struggled to remain seaworthy. The wave destroys much of the coastline, and we see this as the Fletcher’s make their way on land and trek back to their old neighborhood—the infamous, familiar terrain that made his previous novel so memorable. The remainder of the novel depicts Alex’s quest to locate his son in Boston and return him home safely. It is a quest that will thrill and excite, and every parent will relate to his single-minded mission to protect his child. Alex’s dormant military skills come to the forefront and he seems to bask in the glow of his oft-used, albeit considerable might.
Konkoly’s strength as a writer rests in his ability to write action scenes, and in this regard few authors equal his skill at writing muscular, lean prose that moves along his plot. He has an innate sense of narrative structure and understands the motivations of his characters and what they need and should do. His level of detail, whether it is describing geography, weapons or sailing technique, is meticulous in scope and has the ring of authority. Reading his novels, I often feel like I’m competing at Daytona.
THE PERSEID COLLAPSE is a thrilling start to his new series, and a fine companion to THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC, his debut bestseller. Konkoly understands intuitively that these events can happen, and just might. His writing strikes at the heart of our greatest fears and penetrates deep into our collective psyche. The horror of his tales lays not with the event itself, but with peoples’ reaction and how it changes the way they interact with one. The collapse of civilization has worried people since the beginning of time, and Konkoly taps that fear all too successfully in THE PERSEID COLLAPSE.