Book Review #4

After writing reviews on the first three of Lee Child’s, Jack Reacher books, all I can say is, this is how they should have been written.

Back, just about the time that the phase, “Jumping the shark” was created, but before I became aware of it, I noticed something similar about television programs. (And Art, and many other things)  After a couple of very successful seasons of Mork and Mindy, even the Mix-Master mind of Robin Williams had to rest, and they brought in Jonathan Winters to save the series.  Whenever a program becomes so cartoonish that they have to add characters, it’s on its last legs.

I liked the series Bones when it first came out, but it’s become so soap-opera-ish that I don’t hold much hope for it next season.  Already cartoonish, a couple of years ago, I found out about these books when they brought in a character called The Locator, and then tried to split a cartoon off from a cartoon and gave it its own series.  I was surprised it lasted one short season.

Even between the pilot and the first episode, they got rid of the intelligent, good-looking, smart-mouthed, British, female bartender and replaced her with some tween Roma Gypsy naïf, and her soap-opera-supplied male cousin.  The books are SO different.

The Author – Richard Greener

The Book – The Knowland Retribution

The Review

To begin with, unlike the TV show, the protagonist was not struck by lightning, and able to find any object in the world.  He is intelligent, methodical, and a student of psychology and the human condition, which allows him to locate any person, many of whom don’t want to be found.

I thought I knew why there were only two books in the series when the central character, already wealthy enough from a number of discreet, high-society cases to live in the Bahamas, receives $31.1 million.  He gives away $30 million of it, and I still don’t know why Greener only wrote two Locator stories.

The book is not About the Locator.  He only appears in about a third of it. The primary third is about an Atlanta real-estate lawyer who loses his wife, his daughter and his only two grandchildren to e-coli contaminated meat.  He eventually sets out to kill those who made conscious decisions to put commerce above food safety.

The second main part of the story is about a steel-trap-mind newspaperwoman, who wants her own column, but is relegated to writing obituaries for the New York Times.  It is her noticing and connecting violent executive deaths all over the eastern United States, which reveals the plot, and its probable planner.

Walter, The Locator, appears in the first couple of development chapters.  He pops back in briefly a couple of times to help direct the paper lady, and shows up again at the denouement finale.  Other than brief mentions of how he honed his Locator ability, very little of it is shown.  He just shows up, and the wanted person is there, all very anti-climactic.

Technically-speaking, there were few typos, or incorrect word usages….until we got to the last chapter.  Suddenly Walter spots a Chevrolet Camero, not Camaro.  The General Motors website says that they search for, or make up names for Chevrolet products which begin with C, for alliterative value, like the Chevy Cruze.

They were initially going to use the Camero spelling.  The GM website says that, in Spanish, the word means a large single bed, a contradiction in terms.  A translation site gives it as a ¾ bed.  Camaro is a made-up name, but means “companion” in middle French, and in modern Spanish, the adjective value is “shrimp-like”, while the noun means “loose bowels”, diarrhoea.  Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a shit.

Possibly in a rush to get the book published, the last chapter suddenly has the woman reporter speak of having someone bare (bear) with me, an invitation to a party I wouldn’t want to miss.  Walter names a character who’s (whose) calling is suspect.

Some action is taken at the whimsy of the perpetrator, and assistance is rendered complements of an FBI supervisor.  These last two seem almost like Lee Child’s British construction.  While not exactly incorrect, most American writers would speak of, at the whim of, or whims of.  Whimsy has such a light-hearted flair to it, not correlating to the death and destruction of the story to that point.  Complements and compliments are forever being mixed up, but in this specific spot, compliments is the more correct.

The book has solid character development, good plot progression, and engrossing narration.  All in all, so much more satisfying than the cotton-candy prose I so often paddle around in the shallow end of.  It was quite enjoyable, and I look forward to the next, but sadly, last.

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