There are two big secrets about myself that I'll never tell anyone.
One is that _____ really gets me aroused. The other is that I never
learned how to _____. Other than that, I'm pretty much an open book
(heh heh). I don't mind telling people, for instance, that I've
never ridden a train. Sure, I've hopped on board the little
choo-choos at the zoo that race you past the Mongolian Ape named
Hoophlungdung or the buffalos as they're taking steps to insure the
perpetuation of their species, but I've never been on a real live
train ride, one that takes you at a couple hundred miles an hour
across the prairie bathed in moonlight toward a stretch of track
that has come undone...no, I've never been on a train ride.
PARALLEL LIES by Ridley Pearson is about trains. I mean, all about
trains. One of the ways I test good writing is by seeing if the
author can make interesting a topic about which I know almost
nothing. Pearson does this quite admirably. Next time you're
stopped at a railroad crossing, you can distract yourself with all
of the facts you learned about freight and passenger trains, such
as how they keep track of them in the yard, how they know where
they're going, and the like, by reading PARALLEL LIES.
One of the great things about this terrific read is that you can
cheer for the bad guy, who is really a good guy. Umberto Alvarez
lost his beloved wife and two young children at a railroad crossing
and he holds Northern Union, the train company, responsible.
Alvarez accordingly embarks on a campaign to derail Northern Union
trains. His grand finale: to derail NU's test run of its bullet
train --- unless the President of NU admits the company's guilt and
apologizes. And while the loss has unbalanced Alvarez, he is
correct. Northern Union is responsible. NU also knows,
however, that Alvarez is behind the derailments of its
This fact is also discovered by Peter Tyler, an investigator for
the National Transportation Safety Board. Tyler is brought into
contact with NU when a murder is committed aboard one of NU's
freight trains. Tyler discovers that the victim is one of NU's
security team, which has been hired to quickly, and quietly, stop
Alvarez. Tyler soon begins to discover some ironic parallels
between his life and that of Alvarez. Tyler, fired from the
Washington, D. C. police force for use of unreasonable force in a
controversial case, is at loose ends and on the verge of losing
everything; it is important that he solve the case and stop
Alvarez. Yet, when he realizes that Alvarez has been wronged, his
own sense of justice creates a conundrum for him. How can he arrest
a man so clearly wronged? And would it be justice, in the truest
sense of the word?
Pearson has, over the course of his last few novels, rapidly
increased his stature --- and his readership --- in the suspense
field, and PARALLEL LIES is a classic demonstration of how he has
been able to do this. PARALLEL LIES keeps Pearson's string intact
and will undoubtedly further expand his readership.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011