|Review of The CAUL, A Trilogy.
Part II: Truth and Deception
By John Nash, Professor of English Literature, ECC, Buffalo, New York.
July 12, 2006
James Allan Matte knows what he's talking about. He brings to his first novel, The Caul, broad experience in espionage, law enforcement and scholarship. His groundbreaking work in forensic psychophysiology plays a role in The Caul insofar as three climactic polygraph examinations are depicted. Always racing ahead, the plot moves interestingly to these polygraph scenes which are so richly informative about what actually happens in such tests. I learned so much!
But this is first-rate adventure with ample dosage of fist-fighting, murder, and romance. Novelist Matte has seen much of this activity in his amazing career, and his protagonist Markham is virtually a verbatim reflection of Matte's own life. Amazing, indeed. The Caul's James Markham is at times James Bond, Blackford Oakes, and George Smiley. And in the bargain he's a bit of Batman and Superman. Markham's deus ex machina entrances, however, are not flights through the air, rather, he gracefully and heroically sails into dangerous episodes aboard his 41-foot sailboat, the Caul.
A couple of people have told me how they regretted reaching the last page of James Michener's Hawaii - that's how I felt when I put down James Matte's The Caul. After years of publishing tomes and sholarly articles, James Matte can add the novel to his list of proud achievements.