Mysterious Book Report The InquisitorThe Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith

Henry Holt, $27.00, 325 pages, ISBN 978-0-8050-9426-8

We live in what’s been called the Information Age, because the past 25 years have seen the rise of computer technology and the invention of the World Wide Web.  We’re all linked together with access to data and instant information retrieval with devices that were the stuff of science fiction and the comics as recently as a few years ago.  Does anyone remember Dick Tracy and his “two-way wrist radio?”  Or holy smokes, his “two-way wrist TV?” Chester Gould, the cartoonist used to write that and draw little arrows pointing to the watch.  The arrows were small curved ones and always had a little circle where the feathers would normally be.  Today, we’re obsessed with information, and how to store, manage and retrieve it, and we’re inventing new machines to do so faster than folks can figure out how to use them.

But what if . . . what if the information was in someone’s head?  And what if that someone didn’t want to give it up?  What then . . .

Then you would have to find someone like Geiger, the protagonist of a debut novel titled The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith.

Geiger is a self-proclaimed “Information Retrieval Specialist.”  He’ll get the secret you’re after, without spilling much blood and in record time.  After that, whatever happens to “Mr. Jones” as he calls each of his subjects, is someone else’s concern.  Geiger is the best psychological torturer in the business.  His fees are high, his techniques are efficient and fast, and his results are guaranteed.  He works for anyone who has the money and survives his vetting process, using information compiled by his researcher, a social outcast named Harry.  Geiger refuses to work on children, the infirm, and those past age 72.  His clients range from corporations to organized crime, to the CIA.  And, in spite of his profession, he’s a surprisingly sympathetic character, because he has what appears to be a well-developed set of ethics and a tiny germinating embryo of conscience . . . we find Geiger to be a developing character as he discovers more of himself with the progression of the novel.  It’s a journey of enlightenment as he refuses to torture a ten year old boy, and suffers the consequences.  The book has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal.  It’s one of the most talked about books of the year, gaining accolades from all who’ve read it, including me.  Highest marks for this one, with one caveat: once you start reading it, don’t plan on doing much until you’ve read every last word.  It’s that good!


John Dwaine McKenna