Book Review - Ends of the Earth: A Bug Man Novel by Tim Downs
It's been awhile since I visited Tim Downs and his Bug Man series. But his latest, Ends of the Earth: A Bug Man Novel, recently showed up at our library, so I got on the hold list. I forgot how much I enjoyed these books. Interesting (and quirky) characters, enjoyable dialogue, and some situations that make you think about how at-risk our food supply might be to terror attacks.
Nick Polchak, the series' forensic entomologist (aka, the Bug Man), is called upon to check out a crime scene. A farmer with a rather sordid history was found shot in the back, and Nick was using the insects found in the wound to narrow down the time of death. The case is a bit complicated, however. There's a bale of marijuana by the body, and the bugs found there do not match up with what Nick would expect. And when Nick finds the unexpected, he becomes consumed in finding the explanation. The deeper he digs into the case and his bugs, the more it looks as if someone is attempting to launch a pest infestation that would have a dramatic impact on a few critical crops across America.
The subplot running throughout the story also is quite interesting and amusing... Nick was requested to investigate the case by the wife of the dead farmer, and she's someone who had feelings for Nick in the past. Nick calls up a woman with narcotic dogs for help on the case, and she also has a thing for Nick. Of course, Bug Man is completely oblivious to love and normal human interactions, and that leads to some interesting and amusing interactions as the two women vie for Nick's attention while trying to understand each other.
There's a number of things to like about the Bug Man novels. Polchak is quite aware of his lack of social graces, but he really doesn't care. This leads to some great dialogue, at times directed towards others, at other times very self-deprecating. The two women are also humorous in their rivalry that leads to a truce and then a friendship as they both figure out how they feel about Nick. And the ending is just typical Polchak... :) On the more serious side, Downs makes a case in his novel on how easy it would be to launch a biological attack on crops in such a way that it would be very difficult to defend, as well as to track down the person(s) behind the attack.
Ends of the Earth is one of those novels that is enjoyable to read on one level, while giving you a bit more to chew on if you're so inclined. With any luck, Tim Downs already has another Bug Man novel in the works, because now I'm ready for another episode.
Obtained From: Library