Out of Nowhere is a good read with solid characters, realistic dialogue, a likeable main character, but also a meandering plot and an antagonist whose name I don’t remember three days after finishing the novel (and that’s the least of my complaints about him). Let’s dig into it!
Sean Danet is an immortal paramedic with the ability to heal the wounds and even some diseases of others. He’s been around for centuries. For many of those, he’s been a soldier, and rather good at it. Not because he enjoys killing, even if he’s as skilled a killer as any you’ll find, but because where there’s a battlefield, there’s plenty of wounded. Wounded who won’t question a miracle, or at least aren’t likely to strap Sean to a pyre and light the match up for it.
Being a paramedic is similar, and as an added bonus, no one is trying to kill Sean – most of the time, anyway. That all changes when Sean heals a man during a routine night out, and the man seems to recognise something is off about the paramedic. People close to Sean start getting attacked soon after, and everything escalates from that point onward. I found the time spent in Sean’s head thoroughly enjoyable. Not only is he damn likeable, but he’s also surprisingly humane for an immortal and he reminds me of the main character in the cancelled TV series Forever (a major bonus, trust you me). He possesses a distinctive enough voice to make him memorable; while far from a Philip Marlowe or a Vlad Taltos, he’s definitely got the sarcastic outlook and quirky personality necessary to earn a spot in the pantheon of tough but likeable assholes.
The supporting cast isn’t one to throw away, either. Sean’s best friends Nique and Pete are both capable paramedics who stick by their friend when the going gets tough, even if there’s a lot of teasing involved. All the dialogue between the paramedics, their problems all feel very real, and small wonder – author Patrick LeClerc is a paramedic himself, and he also cooks, another trait shared by Sean. Sarah is the love interest, a beautiful linguist whose instant chemistry with Sean might irk some readers, though I didn’t mind it one bit. I thought it was rather sweet and cute, in fact! She's also really smart -- putting Sean to shame on a few occasions; and loyal to boot.
Where Out of Nowhere falls short is a villain who simply isn’t memorable enough, whose reason for going after Sean is trite and uninspired. He’s also dealt away with in such a clean, neat way – almost like he’s a problem to be solved. This antagonist doesn’t really reveal much about Sean, nor does he offer an overwhelming enough threat that I felt at any point could in truth threaten the main character.
Another problem I had was the fact that Sean, for all the years he spent in the shadows of men and women of great fame and historical importance, apparently never crossed paths with other gifted individuals such as himself. You'd think he would be far from the only powered individual with the desire to kick it up with the best and brightest of the times!
The first half of the novel takes its time setting up Sean’s life and relationships, and while his voice was enough to personally get me through, I can’t help but feel that a stronger conflict would’ve made those 130 pages that much more memorable. Thankfully, the dialogue, with its witty quips and historical references was good enough to make them enjoyable, even if at times I found myself wondering, “Was something supposed to happen now?”
I’d be happy to read Sean Danet’s further adventures. I only hope the next novels in the series are better served by their respective antagonists, and that the conflict drives the characters I’ve come to like to new and interesting places.
My score for this #SPFBO finalist is a 6.5 out of 10! I thought long and hard about this, and while I at first wanted to give it a 7 out of 10, I decided that some of the problems it has, weigh down on it too much for that score. However, its spot in the ten #SPFBO finalists is well and truly earned!