Somehow even more engaging than “Keeper”, Greg Rucka’s second installment in the Atticus Kodiak series is a model for how to do a cross-genre thriller. It’s not a detective story, though the elements are there, nor is it a straight up action thriller. What we get instead is what Rucka does best, a character study set within the bounds of genre fiction.
Atticus Kodiak is a great character. He’s young in a way that allows him to make mistakes that a character a few years older would avoid. Except in the case of Kodiak, we get the sense that his personality would dictate that though he had identified the misstep, he may very well go through with it anyway. There is an element of inexorable self-harm to Kodiak that truly comes out in this installment. I think it was with this book that Rucka really figured out who he wanted Kodiak to be. In “Keeper” his identity as a bodyguard was established but the internal machinations of the character were kept locked down in order for the story to move forward. I feel that the reverse is true with “Finder” as Kodiak’s actions in his personal life affect the plot more severely. We really get to see how at odds his decisions within the sphere of his personal life reflect on his work.
“Finder” is a book that manages to escalate the threat facing Atticus while at the same time narrowing the focus and allowing for a more personal connection to his principle. Whereas “Keeper” built the connection to Atticus and Co.’s protectee through the course of the book and plot twists therein, it is arguable that at the end of the day his relationship with the person he was protecting was simply a business decision even if his thoughts on the matter changed. With “Finder” Rucka is able to justify many of Atticus’ actions because there is no way for Atticus to sever the personal connection to his principle and the business side of the transaction. They are one and the same in this instance and the fact that the forces working against him are so above his level make the threat of failure very real as well as compelling to the reader on a dramatic level.
To put it bluntly, Rucka hits his stride here in a way very few writers ever do. This is the kind of book that makes you glad there are more installments waiting down the line, even if you know that what you are going to read may twist your guts and make you a little uncomfortable. Good guys get hurt and nice people make bad decisions and the empathy you feel toward those characters may make it hard to turn the page but the writing is so good you soldier on anyway.