The internet offers a cloak of invisibility, a chance to be someone you are not. But the cloak doesn’t really offer the safety of anonymity. It only hides the bearer for a short time, and the consequences of being de-cloaked are often much worse than one would think.
In King of Paine by Larry Kahn, we are taken into the back stages of internet chat rooms, in an effort to find a killer. Frank Paine is not just a newbie FBI agent; he is also an ex-Hollywood actor, and a man with a dark and secret past. When he finds himself dragged back into the games of his past, by a stalker who seems quite aware of his indiscretions from his recent and erotic past, Paine must find a way to delve into the darkness one more time, in an effort to snare a killer.
Knowing he must find forgiveness from the only woman he has ever loved, Frank is unnerved when he finds that she is a suspect. Can he prove her innocence? In an effort to solve the crime before anyone else is murdered, Frank must develop some trust in his new job. Sharing a bit of his past with one of the agents, Frank is able to set up a chat to lure the killer out of hiding. When his agent friend is killed in Frank’s apartment, while Frank is in the other room, he realizes he is now in the killers sights. As he continues to look for ways to assure Jolynn’s innocence, she too is dragged into the dangerous game of cat and mouse. Can he save her before it is too late, or is she truly the killer after all?
Kahn has written a thriller with teeth. His characters are quite jaded and yet also very likable. They have their flaws as well as their dark sides. Kahn delves into the internet chat rooms like a pro and drags you along for the ride. Frank Paine is a strong character, yet he has to prove himself to the very people he works with. Having made mistakes in his life, he understands why his credibility is not as strong as he would like it. Known for his acting, his new job puts him at a disadvantage with those who have a more realistic past. Having been instrumental in his own girlfrien’ds downfall and downward slide from the business, he struggles to find his way back into her life. He is charismatic and dangerous with a rebelliousness that draws you in.
Jolynn is a beautiful and sassy counterpart, smart but very angry and hurt at Frank’s lack of action when she needed him the most. The heat between them sizzles and her knack of internet game playing brings her into the picture in a way that becomes very dangerous. When all clues begin to point at Jolynn and her past, Frank finds himself trying to direct the traffic. Is she the killer or the target of the killer? Frank must find the answers before it is too late.
Within and woven throughout King of Paine are issues that are also twisted into the work, those that deal with death and dignity. There is a story behind the story and yet entwined, twisting the reader in directions unimagined.
I would recommend this book for those who enjoy a good thriller. Be prepared for vicarious and sexual game playing and role playing. The forays into the internet are well thought-out and just a bit creepy, and the thrill of the chase is what draws you in. Technology and medicine set the backdrop to this work, and the context of meaning leaves you wondering. Kahn as done an excellent job with red herrings, and the twists and machinations of the killer send you in directions you never see coming.