Leonard Rosen’s debut novel, All Cry Chaos, is an intelligent, gripping thriller, a page-turner par excellence.
The novel introduces Henri Poincare, an aging Interpol agent assigned to investigate the assassination of a renowned mathematician. Part Sherlock Holmes and part Robert Langdon (of The DaVinci Code fame) Poincare makes it his business to make sense of the violent chaos of life in the 21st century. It’s especially appropriate, then, that the victim in the investigator’s inaugural adventure should be an expert on fractal theory, or the notion that patterns can be found within even the most seemingly chaotic of systems.
Equally appropriate is the fact that as Poincare continues in his struggle to solve the murder, his own life should teeter on the brink of collapse into personal chaos: the last criminal he put behind bars has contracted with a network of underground criminals to kill Poincare’s entire family, a situation which, needless to say, rests heavily on the Inspector’s shoulders. Thus to a novel with great intellectual depth Rosen adds a level of emotional gravitas as well, as Poincare’s struggle to divine order from the chaos of the crime scene is also his struggle to divine order from the chaos of his heart.
Throughout the novel, Rosen demonstrates his skills as a master of well-wrought prose. His writing is concise yet evocative, his characters unique and utterly believable. Indeed, that Rosen should choose to begin a mystery series with the premise that his hero is just reaching retirement age says a lot for his chutzpah as a writer. Henri Poincare is no able-bodied Jason Bourne (of The Bourne Identity et. al.) capable of seemingly super-human feats of strength — and thank goodness for that! Rather, he’s an aging man with a bad heart whose relative nearness to death forces him to slow down and take what might be called a more philosophical approach to his work.
Which isn’t to say that the novel is short on action — far from it! Sharp-shooters, rioters, assassins and suicidal religious zealots all conspire to make Poincare’s life more interesting, to say the least. In short, all of this makes Poincare akin to the thinking-man’s Bourne, a reluctant man of action with a distinctly philosophical and deeply intellectual bent.
Reminiscent of Don DeLillo’s The Names and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, All Cry Chaos is a solid, intelligent thriller that simultaneously confounds and transcends the limits of genre. An excellent book.
—Review by Marc Schuster