Frank Paine is an FBI Agent with secrets. As the new guy on the force, exposure of those secrets could destroy his career as surely as they destroyed the career of the woman he loved. When Paine is assigned to a case involving a pedophile, he is faced with coming to terms with those secrets. Someone else knows his past and is immediately willing to make Frank aware of that fact - through an email message to him before he arrives at the crime scene. The email leads Frank and fellow agents to very different scene - an online set up a near rape by proxy. To make matters worse, the perpetrator behind Frank's case is the same person who tipped him. He or she is soon realized to be behind a series of similar incidents linked to the exposure and humiliation of others; one ultimately ending in suicide.
Roger Martin is an alcoholic investigative journalist on a last chance story about wealthy missing seniors. When a bar room encounter with an angelic but mysterious woman sends him on chase across the country to track down not only the seniors but the reason behind their disappearance, Roger touches the roots of his Pulitzer prize winning past. Could he be chasing the dream of a real life fountain of youth pill or... will it lead him to a peaceful place to die?
In King of Paine, author Larry Kahn creates two very different storylines yet effortlessly flows them together to create one vivid and suspense filled thriller. Clues intermingle with red herrings and easy to miss hints are dropped along the way. The ending proves to be quite a surprise.
It was the odd blending of two parallel but very different storylines that really stood out for me. Mixing an end of life management, medical style thriller with a darker foray into the unsavory world of internet BDSM chatrooms struck me as difficult to resolve - yet the author does this easily. His writing is smooth, his characters flawed, and the story content could even be considered disturbing. It makes for a very edgey novel.
Based on the writing and suspense the author creates, this is a five star read. However, given the controversial nature of the content, I think I need to add a disclaimer. This novel might not be for all thriller fans. Aside from the focus on subjects like assisted suicide, bondage and sado-masochism, I found the characters rationalizations of their actions to be every bit as disturbing as the actions themselves. Of course it's subjective. Most thought provoking novels are. It all depends on the reader's preference.