Friday, March 20, 2009

Forgotten Books: First Evidence by Ken Goddard

Imagine this: Agents Mulder and Scully are on a case in Las Vegas. They discover a carapace of an unknown insect. Seeking guidance, they look up Gil Grisson at the Las Vegas crime lab (AKA “CSI”), a renowned insect expert. In one of those rare instances where they both smile, Scully and Grisson go out for drinks, end up in a hotel, and, nine months later, a little baby is born to the two. You ever wonder (probably not up until this very moment) what the product of this union might be? Yeah, I didn’t think so. But, hey, I do have an answer for you.

Detective-Sergeant Colin Cellars is the star of Ken Goddard’s First Evidence. He’s a “Gil Grissom” living in northwest Oregon. As a crime lab tech, he’s trained to study the evidence and only the evidence, no matter where it leads. Even if it leads to something he doesn’t believe.

Colin’s not in the first chapter. Bob Dawson is. He’s an ex-military stud who’s chosen to be a hermit in the Oregon. Goddard describes Dawson as someone who Just Doesn’t Get Scared. And he’s scared now. Because some*thing* killed his dog and is in his house. He’s cornered and he realizes he’s not going to be able to meet his old friend Colin. In fact, he might not even get out of his house alive. Violence ensues. Fade to black.

Cut to Colin, biding his time at a UFO convention, stifling yawns and wondering why on Earth he had agreed to listen. One thing leads to another and Colin ends up processing a crime scene: Dawson’s house. And Dawson is nowhere to be found. Then, strange things happen that any viewer of The X-Files knows: people disappear from one place only to end up at another location without any explanation; strange shadows in the claustrophobic Oregon forest, etc. You get the idea.

It’s been awhile since I read this book (2001, the same year I went to Portland, Oregon) but I remember really digging the CSI/X-Files combo thing. Goddard is, himself, a crime scene investigator so you can trust his scientific knowledge.

The book has the great, moody, foggy atmosphere the first six years of “The X-files” had (before they moved production from Vancouver to LA). We, as readers, know from the beginning what Colin has to come to believe. He does it in the Scully method: that is, all science and evidence and ‘truth’ (It's out there!) even to the point where the conclusion is unavoidable. It’s a fun book, better than the second X-Files movie for sure. If you’re planning a trip to Oregon, I’d take it along (When I go on vacation, I enjoy reading books that take place in the area where I'm vacationing). If you’re wanting a fun, spooky book to pass a few hours, I’d certainly recommend it. If you like this book, there’s a sequel, too.

Go on over to Ken Goddard’s webpage and read the first chapter. See if you get hooked. I did.


For more Forgotten Book fun, head on over to Patti Abbott's blog.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Atmosphere wins me over every time. Thanks, Scott

Randy Johnson said...

I read this one a few years back and enjoyed it. The sequel, Outer Perimeter, was okay, though not quite as good.