Author and screenwriter David Klass turns the serial killer mythology on its head in his new novel, Out of Time, in which the killer is intent on saving mankind through his inconceivable deeds. The Green Man, so dubbed by the media and the FBI pursuing him, doesn’t kill for the sake of some insatiable, perverse sexual desire but out of an acute calling to save the environment.
By targeting certain sites, the Green Man’s terrorist acts are meant to call attention to climate change and heighten awareness of its adverse effects. The novel opens with the destruction of a dam on Idaho’s Snake River. Environmental activists regard his actions as heroic, despite the deaths incurred along the way which the Green Man views as collateral damage.
FBI data analyst Tom Smith—not exactly a memorable name, he admits, adding, “I didn’t choose it”—and a task force of 300 FBI agents only see a killer who must be stopped. Smith brings to the investigation an outside-the-box approach, as he realizes that the killer isn’t just some deranged sociopath killing for kicks or sexual gratification but may be a well-educated, well-adjusted family man whose cause is more important than a few unfortunate deaths. So begins a fast-paced game of cat and mouse as Smith zeroes in on the Green Man’s identity, intent on stopping him before more lives are lost.
Klass, who has written many young adult novels and is best known for a bevy of Hollywood screenplays including Kiss the Girls and Walking Tall, writes in terse, straightforward prose. Chapters alternate between Smith and the Green Man’s point of view, allowing a close-up perspective of each character’s motivations and desires.
While his intentions may have some merit and his deeds may cause readers to stop and think, you know the Green Man’s going down. The fun is in the thrill of the chase, and in that respect Klass delivers.