Cantrell Digs Deep in “The World Beneath”

Posted: November 26, 2013 by writingsprint in Essay
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Rebecca Cantrell "The World Beneath"We’ve all taken the subway before, but what if you could never leave? Three, four or more levels down, a hundred miles of tunnels with split-offs and old rooms that even the police and transit system have lost track of, it becomes a strange world with its own day and night. Even if you had a cozy, elegant home, what would your life become? Now imagine that Alfred Hitchcock answered that question, and you have some idea of what you’re in for with The World Beneath.

New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell moves from the sinister world of World War II Germany (the Hannah Vogel series) to a quirky, claustrophobic, more quietly dangerous world beneath New York City. Joe Tesla — a distant descendant of the eccentric genius Nikola Tesla — is a software millionaire with severe agoraphobia. He and his therapy dog Edison haven’t stood outdoors in months. Joe is trying to cope as best he can, but soon he’s being hunted by a cold-blooded killer, the police, and the CIA, while a deadly contagion threatens all of them.

The World Beneath is a page-turner, whether it’s from the action or characters who are so real that you can’t stop watching them. The story opens with a jaw-dropping series of events that leads us into the underground world before we even meet Joe. We meet the characters, even the villains, with the intimacy reserved for close friends. Cantrell has a talent for spotting the subtle details that bring characters to life, whether it’s a nickname, a habit, an affliction, or some other aspect that we usually take for granted. Subways breathe. We get to know during during a poignant scene where he’s taking Edison for a walk, and we take a walk through his past and his life. His thoughtful detail isn’t reserved for Joe, however. One villain has a friendly nickname. Another cares about his brother. The setting and every character have quirks that make them real enough to touch.

The action serves the characters — a rare thing among most thrill writers — and, rarer still, they all have moments of sympathy, which makes hating some of them a twisted treat for the reader. Add the suspense, which grabs you by the shirt and forces you to watch it, and you have book that’s a winner.

Cantrell’s novels have won the Bruce Alexander and the Macavity awards, and been nominated for the Barry, Mary Higgins Clark, APPY, RT Reviewers Choice, and Shriekfest Film Festival awards. She is the author of the Hannah Vogel World War II mystery series and co-author of the Order of the Sanguines vampire thriller series with James Rollins.

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