Home Invasion

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Having recently completed reading Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry’s, The Tombs (published in 2013), which feature the independently wealthy treasure hunter team of Sam and Remi Fargo, I noted a similar story structure device to my own Gantlet Brother novel, Sold Out (also published in 2013), in which the plot of the story is apparently wrapped up, but then some niggling plot thread emerges, and havoc death, destruction, and mayhem ensue.

The premise of The Tombs revolves around a race against a powerful crime lord to uncover five treasure vaults/tombs hidden away by Attilla the Hun. Victorious, and with the treasures safely in the custody of the various countries in which they were found, Sam and Remi retire to the comfort of their California home to bask in the satisfaction of a job well done. And … at least in my opinion … that’s when the story gets really good.

Their enemy launches an attack upon their home and they must fight it off. This is very similar to the end of Sold Out, in which Fritz Gantlet finds himself the target of the son of a Vietnamese crime lord who he killed years earlier in Czechoslovakia .

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The Tombs and Sold Out end on quite different notes, and though written concurrently are certainly not the first works of fiction to feature the idea of home invasion. Nor is the concept of an unexpected or second coda to a story a new storytelling device.

Sixty years ago (a recent occurrence when viewing the history of literature as a whole) Ian Fleming published Casino Royale, in which James Bond defeats a SMERSH agent known as Le Chiffre at the baccarat tables, thereby making him insolvent and exposing the fact Le Chiffre has misused Russian funds for his own personal criminal endeavors. Naturally, Le Chiffre is unhappy with Bond, and manages to capture and torture him. But before he can kill Bond, a SMERSH agent shows up and assassinates Le Chiffre.

Story ostensibly over, Bond rides off into the sunset with his partner Vesper Lynd and they enjoy romantic evenings on the beach. Bond resolves to ask Lynd to marry him, but before he can pop the question the secret that Vesper Lynd was a Russian double agent threatens to come out and Lynd commits suicide.

In a much older example of a second coda, it might be argued that the entirety of Homer’s Odyssey is a second coda to the Trojan War (a portion of which is detailed in the Iliad). The Trojan’s are defeated and the Achaeans, including Odysseus, presumably will finally go home after ten years of battle and enjoy some peace. However, Odysseus has offended the gods and this niggling plot thread weaves into a whole new tapestry, which becomes the epic story of  Odysseus’s ten year voyage home.

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