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Surviving Frank
David A. Page
Five Star, 273 pages

David A. Page
Surviving Frank
David A. Page
After reading The Hobbit and The Sword of Shannara at the age of twelve, David Page boldly announced to his parents that he was going to write a book of his own. He started by scrawling on an old notepad and by eighteen submitted his first short story. A novel soon followed. Several of his short stories have appeared in small press magazines. In 1995, he moved from Boston to Seattle. It was there, surrounded by the beauty of snow capped muntains and the expanse of Puget Sound where he wrote Surviving Frank. Although David currently resides in the midwest, he hopes to return to the west coast in the near future.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

When I chose to review Surviving Frank I was sort of expecting/hoping for a cross between Cornell Woolrich's Black Alibi (1942, source of the 1943 film The Leopard Man), and Dirty Harry, with a touch of lycanthropy à la The Howling thrown in. To make a parallel between Surviving Frank's vengeful murderer and the protagonists of Woolrich's The Bride Wore Black and Rendezvous in Black would be quite a stretch indeed, but at least the villain wasn't immediately obvious and remained a fairly dark and largely humourless character. But beyond the villain, it was hard adjusting and not writing off Surviving Frank as toothless fluff, as the remainder of the story is near absurd, or at least certainly firmly a tongue-in-cheek police procedural. I guess that it isn't an entirely bad thing that an icon like Dirty Harry, once accused of being an ultra-violent fascist character, he has become the subject for broad humor.

Frank T. Wolfe, is a rogue cop stuck by his particular form of lycanthropy in a half-wolfen-half-human form, and under surveillance by his new partner, wet-behind-the-ears Officer Ryan, a young cop promoted to detective by Internal Affairs, so he can bring down the loose cannon. However, a string of murders, with the governor apparently the next target, mean that Ryan and Frank must work together.

From a dedication on the Surviving Frank website it can be inferred that the author has recently been teaching at the high school level, and while some of the humor and situations are perhaps a bit more adult, the novel reads as one designed for juvenile market -- though this isn't stated anywhere. I'll admit it may be a result of my preconceptions about the novel, but given the nature of the main character, the book could have used some more bite, both literally and figuratively. Given the events in Frank's past, for me what there was of the hard-drinking loner cop was altogether unconvincing and insufficient, not nearly self-destructive enough, even in a humorous context. Similarly there was not even a single extended account of one of Frank's past alledgedly violent rogue cop adventures to give some idea of what made him tick.

Taking Surviving Frank for what it is, it is a fun and funny light read, and the plot was solid if quirky at times: a scene in a Mafioso's restaurant being quite hilarious. Some scenes, such as the one of Officer Ryan running from a strange posse of street people through the dark alleys and backlots of Boston was quite good, building good suspense, and it was unfortunate that this lot of shadowy figures were not revisited. Overall, as light comedy Surviving Frank works well, but as gritty noir there's not much to sink one's fangs into.

Copyright © 2003 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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