The Bottom Line: A must-read for crime fiction fans.
In Jason Palmer’s long-awaited follow-up to his excellent prison thriller The Big Guy, supersized Seamax prison inmate Percy Croft is at a crossroads. With only a few months left on his sentence, he wants nothing more than to just keep his nose clean and get released. Unfortunately, a powerful inmate named Bread has other ideas. Bread plans to force the 325-pound Croft to fight a fellow inmate so he can profit from the gambling.
Refusing to fight isn’t an option. Bread has formed an alliance with a prison official who has discovered that Croft hasn’t been taking the medicine that is supposed to keep him from getting much bigger. But even if he agrees to fight, serving out the rest of his sentence is far from guaranteed. His would-be opponent, a former pro wrestler and cage fighter, could kill him. Croft figures he has three options: fight, escape or eliminate his enemies so he can take control of the system.
Like its predecessor, The Brains of the Operation is a must-read novel that proves just how skilled Palmer is at character development within an action-packed story. Despite Croft’s size and lethality, Palmer establishes him as a wholly sympathetic character who is on the edge of losing all control over his destiny. His journey toward survival – and perhaps even freedom – in the labyrinthian, catacomb-like Seamax facility is ingenious and addictive.
Reading The Big Guy prior to taking on The Brains of the Operation is highly recommended. The sequel wastes no time on backstory, and readers need The Big Guy’s world-establishing explanations of decks, castles, red eagles and other prison nomenclature to get the most out of the larger story.