Sometimes, sequels can be better than the starting off point, a fact that many Marvel movies can attest, as the origin-telling, that whole world building, has been set and accomplished. The sequel, if done properly, allows the protagonist to grow; to breathe and evolve. Success to Matthew FitzSimmons, then, as his second Gibson Vaughn novel, Poisonfeather, surpasses not only the story telling from The Short Drop, but also evolves Gibson as a character beyond that of a conflicted computer hacker. With Poisonfeather, FitzSimmons creates a terrifically deep tale involving a corrupt financial broker (yeah, yeah, an oxymoron. Noted.), Chinese spies, a Mexican cartel, an undercover bartender, an ex-con-turned-farmer, and an ex-con and his sister still doing the con thing – and it all works blending together into one, smooth read.
FitzSimmons wisely sets Gibson onto a completely new path, building from The Short Drop, but not dwelling in it and, save for a few minor mentions, almost entirely ignores any of those unanswered questions from the first book. In doing so, Gibson becomes his own man and not merely a key member of a team. Gibson has faults, insecurities, and plenty of internal soul searching to do, but when set loose on a job, and for this read that means swindling any and all money away from the aforementioned swindling broker, he comes to life; he is focused and intense. That being said, Poisonfeather’s finale comes with unexpected results, for both Gibson and the reader.
Poisonfeather contains many elements familiar to both crime and noir genres – such as the obligatory shoot ‘em up and a blonde woman of mystery – but keeps up a quick pace and, during the course of the novel, makes Gibson a likable character, which does not fully happen in the first novel. Likable enough, to note, that the ending definitely begs for more Gibson Vaughn.
Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the enjoyable advance read. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
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