Kim Oh 4: REAL DANGEROUS PLACE (The Kim Oh Thrillers) by K.W. Jeter (2012, Kindle Books)
The Kim Oh series by K.W.Jeter just keeps getting better. I was frustrated after finishing Real Dangerous Place because there’s no more on the horizon. What kind of world can it be which doesn’t produce more of these books? Heck, in the 1930’s there were two Shadow novels being published every month! Where is Gold Eagle and why are they not paying Jeter to knock these books out on a regular basis? It’s not enough to get the occasional kindle books edition.
Some time after the events in Kim Oh 3, Kim is working as head of security for Karsh, the sleazy contractor who survived at the conclusion of Kim Oh 3: Real Dangerous People. She’s out on the west coast, in sunny california. Her brother Donnie is enrolled in a school for disabled children and their living situation has improved greatly.
One afternoon she accompanies Karsh in his limo to a construction yard where her boss wants to show off his collection of equipment to some Japanese buyers. Along for the ride is Karsh’s girlfriend Alice. As she describes Alice: “Beside him, his girlfriend was texting on her iPhone, with the intense concentration that comes from not knowing what letter comes next in words like cat and dog”.
Kim is wearing a ladylike buisness suit with jacket. Since she has nowhere to hide it, her legacy 0.357 magnum is in a back pack in Karsh’s limo. However, Kim has had enough forsight to strap a holster on her thigh under the hem of her skirt. But her weapon is a small-caliber Smith & Wesson LadySmith 3913.
She’s shocked to find Elton, the youngest member of the crew from Kim Oh #3 working security at the construction yard. After some tense meeting, Karsh has to leave the construction yard with Elton and Kim following in a panel truck loaded down with welding equipment. Naturally, Karsh has his latest girlfriend in the limo. He’s trying to promote her movie career by financing a low-budget film company.
On the way back to her apartment, the traffic on the highway is suddenly stopped by a jack-knifed truck. Soon it become obvious the truck was in no accident as a band of mercenaries blow the truck up, sealing off the highway exit. The terrorists are led by a charismatic lunatic named Richter, who’s brought with him an entire assault team. They’re keeping everyone trapped on the highway. And to show they mean business, the killers randomly execute someone.
Trapped in this nightmare are: Kim and Elton in the panel truck; Karsh, his girlfriend, and driver; and Kim’s handicapped brother Donnie in an entire school bus of kids with issues. And 40 plus carloads of commuters who happened to be in the wrong place. Once I was into the thick of the plot, it was difficult to put the kindle book down.
Richter only wants to speak with one person: his old nemesis, army Col. MacAvoy, who prevented him from stealing a deadly weapon from a secret government base. He and his men have lined the highway with explosives and will blow it if the cops come too close. But he’s vague about his demands, seemingly satisfied to terrorize everyone. Because Richter knows that in the mess of vehicles he’s stopped, one of them carries the ultimate weapon. And he has plans for it.
Much of the action takes place out of Kim’s frame of reference. In any work using first person narration, it’s a problem to talk about what’s happening while the character is stranded and out of the action. Many authors tell what happened in a flashback format. Jeter strikes gold by having Kim talk about the “TV movie version” of the event, filling the reader in on what happened vs. what every one saw on the tube.
Jeter also corrects a problem which occurred in the earlier novels: an almost total absence of police or law enforcement. In Kim Oh #3, you keep wondering where the cops, or at least mall security, are when the mobsters start blowing each other apart. There’s no “Lt. Cramer” type who shows up and warns the wise guys about what’s going to happen if the gang war continues. No corrupt men in blue taking bribes around the corner. In the Real Dangerous Place, we get a clear picture of what’s going on from the police command post (with corrections made by Kim).
Kim also continues to have spells where everything seems to turn into panes of glass, with reality peaking through the edges. She stared having these bouts after a motorcycle accident in the first book. They don’t seem to interfere with the plot or move it on. I’m betting Jeter is saving her condition to be used in a later book.
The plot is tight and complex. Jeter doesn’t reveal key elements of the action until the moment they are needed. Again, author wannabees should read his material to see how to do it right. The writing is so tight that I can’t reveal much of the plot without spoiling it. You’re never sure what game Richter and his thugs are playing until the last moment.
As always, Kim sweetens the action with her to-the-point observations:
“…Yeah, you can be the boss, and you can throw somebody away when it’s convenient for you, and then you don’t even ever have to think about them again. They’re just gone, the same as the wadded-up paper in the trash can beside your big mahogany desk. That’s what being the boss is all about.
But sometimes the ones you throw away don’t just cease to exist. They’re still out there. And you might not be thinking about them anymore – but they’re thinking about you….”
My only complaint with this book is the ending is, once again, a little too quick. And there’s no previews of the next book in the appendix. And I can’t wait for it.