Review: Vigilante

There was World War II, and then there was the Cold War. There was Vietnam, and Desert Storm, and the war on terror.

Now there’s the war on crime. New York has fallen into the control of crime-lords, and cities throughout America are ravaged by thugs, big-time and small. The government is weak and hapless, and the people are afraid.

But The Hand is here to show them a better way. He protects innocents, stops criminals in the act, and answers 911 calls. He’s like the police, only without paperwork and any regulations besides his own code.

Vigilante, Robin Parrish’s latest book, is a unique blending of familiar flavors – a military thriller by way of a pulp hero with sci-fi gadgetry. The Hand is a masked hero, saving people from an endless line of villains and corrupt or bumbling government officials. But the hero is an ex-Special Forces soldier in a hooded sweatshirt, and the villains are criminals you could read about in the paper. Parrish does not create a new threat so much as he expands an old one until it overpowers society.

There’s a good amount of violence. It’s tastefully handled for the most part, though I could have done without at least one death. It wasn’t gratuitous, just sad.

The novel does have a Christian strain, strong but not loud. Its protagonist is a Christian, and there is a tension in that; the Bible surely turns a cold gaze on vigilantism. Still, the characters never get around to debating the morality of going vigilante. But the book does.

I realized this as I reached the end. All that went on – the undeniable successes of The Hand, the good and bad he did, the temptations he fell to – all show the danger and the draw of a vigilante.

For all the action, the drama of Vigilante finds its heart in one man struggling for a city’s soul, and then for his own. The story is well-told and interesting throughout; in some ways it is grim as Robin Parrish, with ultimate skill, faces that old and captivating figure – the Vigilante.

For the interested: Robin Parrish’s website offers more on Vigilante, as does Amazon.

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