Jim Chapel has to be one of the most unique heroes in fiction, especially within the thriller genre. Normally, a military veteran with a mechanical hand would be played up as some of superhero, a supremely confident - if not downright arrogant - man of action. As we saw in Chimera, Jim Chapel is nothing of the sort. Don't get me wrong, he's a loyal, dedicated, brave soldier, but he's also too humble to ever suggest he's the right man for the job.
Chapel is back in Myrmidon, an e-book only novella from David Wellington that once again puts him in a situation he's cautious about controlling. Unlike his first adventure, the threat here is entirely human - and significantly more chilling because of it.
The story starts with an odd scene that really drives home Chapel's human sort of heroism. About to be tattooed with a swastika in order to infiltrate a white supremacist group, he bails on the whole idea, unable to compromise his flesh and betray the memory of his grandfather's struggle against the Nazis. Instead, he suggests an entirely new approach to his bosses, one that basically boils down to walking up to the gates, knocking on the door, and politely asking for the cache of AK-47s.
Without giving away the unique twist that transforms what could have been an otherwise average story into an eye-opening read, domestic terrorism, white supremacists, and anti-government sensibilities are at the heart of the story. There are more than a few interesting developments, as Wellington proves himself entirely comfortable exploring the mistakes and misjudgments of an ordinary man. Chapel may be as brave as he is selfless, but he's also vulnerable, and that's what makes him interesting.
I really wasn't sure where the story was going to go in its final scenes, and was honestly surprised by the final body count. Where as Chimera was a creepy tale of government sanctioned experiments run amok, Myrmidon is a chilling tale of how far one man will go to prove a point. While both kinds of story have their own strengths, it's the character of Jim Chapel who makes them so compelling.
Expected publication: October 1st 2013 by William Morrow
ebook, 100 pages