Title: Driving Unclaimed Cargo
Author: Rick Mammoth
Genre: Action Adventure / Comedy
Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Cid Radley learns this the hard way when he agrees to do a small favor for his Uncle Terry in exchange for a free vacation, not knowing that he’s unwittingly being used by a covert branch of the United States government to retrieve a dangerous weapon. Shenanigans, mishaps, and all kinds of trouble soon ensues in the race to get the weapon, and Cid, back to American soil intact and, in Cid’s case, preferably alive.
There was something very cinematic about the plotting and the writing style of this novel. The way the plot unfolds is similar to that of heist movies like Ocean’s Eleven, or popular comedies like The Hangover, where nothing is quite what it seems, and you can almost count on there being a scheme behind the scheme, machinations behind the machinations. While this technique might work well for visual media, it might not necessarily translate in the same way and with the same impact on print.
In the case of Driving Unclaimed Cargo, Rick Mammoth was almost rushing to explain the trick or twist behind certain scenes, with the big reveal being provided either in the chapter immediately following said scene or in subsequent chapters thereafter. While it’s gratifying as a reader to know what’s going on when it’s going on, this may come at the expense of feeling that build-up of suspense and tension, that edge-of-your-seat, page-turning sensation that makes for a fantastic reading experience.
Where the author keeps it simple and straightforward, there is much to commend and like about this novel. The dialogue is sharp and brimming with one-liners and witty comebacks, reminiscent of the comedic formula Marvel Studios has developed and perfected for their superhero movies. The pacing is spot on. The author knows when to turn up the action and when to dial it back down so that we have room to breathe and check in with our characters.
This is particularly important, because, in the quiet moments in-between, readers get to appreciate how well-written the characters in this book are. Underneath all the thrills and excitement, the star of this book is Cid, and his opposites-attract chemistry with his military bodyguard/babysitter Mason.
Cid is an average guy with an average job. He’s instantly relatable. Everyone knows a Cid: a bit lazy, a bit of a smartass, but all kinds of fun so he’s always invited to the best parties. It’s almost impossible not to like the Cids of the world. Everyone also knows a Mason: stiff upper lip, love of rules and protocol, the kind of guy who might tell the boss that people are leaving work early on a Friday to enjoy a few drinks.
That relatability and the dynamics between the two on page made this book so much fun to read. Mason was the perfect foil to the more happy-go-lucky and irreverent Cid. There was enough banter in this novel to fill an encyclopedia. However, the author also managed to give both characters’ arc a sense of growth and completion. They’re not the same people they were at the start of the book. Both have learned a lot from the experience and from each other, and because nothing cements a friendship more than facing death together, the bond between the two men was the perfect emotional anchor for this book.
Crackling with wit, humor, chemistry, and all the makings of a lifetime “bromance,” Driving Unclaimed Cargo is a laugh-out-loud novel that people who are simply looking for a good time will surely appreciate. It is an entertaining comedy of errors with high stakes and plenty of heart, and at the end of it, satisfied readers will surely be clamoring for a sequel and more of Cid and Mason.
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