Sunday, August 11, 2013

The 1st 2 of 4 Mini-Reviews

The 1st review is my most disappointing.  When I read Michael Lavigne's Not Me, I was so impressed that I included it in Volume III of Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader.  It was very clever, well-written, and extremely entertaining.  His latest, and 2nd, The Wanting, is only 1 of those 3.  And the 1 is the problem.  It's so well-written that he forgot to make it entertaining.  I definitely commend him on writing beautifully.  But I can't say that I enjoyed it.  Even Steve, who recommended Not Me way back in early 2012, read part of The Wanting and gave up on it.  If I didn't know Michael personally, I might have done the same thing.  That, and the fact that I have to finish (almost) every book as if it's a homework assignment, kept me from following suit.

The story, in a nutshell, is that Roman Guttman, a Russian Jew and a well-known architect, is hit by a terrorist (Hamas) bus bomb in the town he lives in North of Tel Aviv. 9 people were killed, and he was one of 42 injured.  Roman makes an ill-fated journey into Palestine to meet with the suicide bomber's family.  Not too smart, eh?  The story is told in 3 voices:  Roman's, his 13-year old daughter, Anyusha (whose mother has long been dead), and Amir, the terrorist bomber, who says:  "But I am confused that I am not in Paradise with my dark-eyed maidens and rivers of wine, at peace with the pleasure of Allah and his angels."  Bummer, dude.  I'm giving it a 2.5 out of 4 just because it's so well-written.  For some of you, good writing might be enough.  For me, not so much.

The 2nd review is Brad Taylor's Enemy of Mine.  I don't know if you remember, but I read his 1st one, One Rough Man, back in late 2011.  Jack gave it to me, and I really liked it. Then I read his 2nd one, All Necessary Force, a couple of months later and thought it was actually poorly written.  I was really disappointed because after the 1st one, I had established an email relationship with Brad that I was really enjoying.  He always responded within a couple of hours, unlike many authors, and I very much appreciated that.  Well, after I read the 2nd one, I emailed to tell him that I had to give an honest, but less than favorable, review.   He was a gentlemen about it, but it effectively ended our "relationship."  Can't say as I blame him but, hopefully, can't blame me either.

Now here comes Brad's 3rd one.  The good news is that it's better than #2.  The bad news is that it's not as good as #1.  I'm giving it a 2.5 but don't know if I'll read #4. Considering the writing is a bit confusing for me, the only redeeming value is the relationship between Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill, who came together in book #2. Here is a short synopsis of the book from the jacket (no, I didn't read the flap before I read the book):

A tentative peace between Israel and Palestine has been brokered by the United States. But the Taskforce - a clandestine team operating outside of U.S. law to protect the country from terrorism - gets wind of an assassination attempt on the American envoy sent to solidify the treaty. The Taskforce must devote every resource to saving his life - and preventing another bloody outbreak of violence.

Haven't we seen a bunch of books like this?  The hero (in this case, the hero and the heroine) almost singlehandedly stops the bad guys and their assassin.  It sounds like I'm not a fan of this subject matter.  Au contraire.  I'm just not a fan when it's not done well. Vince Flynn's (sigh) Mitch Rapp, Alex Berenson's John Wells, and Daniel Silva's (I'm reading his latest now) Gabriel Allon all stop terrorist plots on a regular basis.  And Sheldon Siegel's 1st standalone, The Terrorist Next Door, has a Chicago detective that is stopping domestic terrorist plots.  It can be done well.  It's just not being done particularly well by Brad.

FUTURE PROGRAM NOTES:  I will do another couple of mini-reviews in the next day or 3.

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