Powerful stuff; unfortunately, the book is less successful as a thing of beauty. Rush works strenuously to deliver what Humphrey Bogart would call a "wow finish"; in an effort to avoid any predictable route, he gets grindingly long-winded, and the sometimes absurd plot twists look like acts of desperation — you get the sense of an author pumping his story full of air. Ray's showdown with his captors is so labored and chatty that it blunts whatever excitement the book has whipped up, and the weighty romantic encounter toward the end is overblown and swoony. Rush is always at his best when his characters are introspective and reflective, when they can ponder at length all the multiple ramifications of something that's already happened. When the story is in the moment Rush tends to dig his way out with bad dialogue.
Mortals bites off more than it can chew and may have more ideas than it knows what to do with, but it may have greatness within its clumsy grasp. Rush, at 69, is pursuing one of the most ambitious careers in modern fiction.