Sunday, March 20, 2016

Could Be My Last

Wildfire (here) could very well be the last novel I read by by Nelson DeMille, I'm at that crossroads where you have given an author the chance a couple of times and he's just not coming through for you.

I remember well how much I enjoyed that opening sequence in The Lion's Game (here) about the airliner filled with dead folks landing in New York and how the antagonist, The Lion, escapes despite all of the police presence. It's a great opening. I was rapt with attention.

Sadly I also remember how poorly that book ended. Beginning, great. Middle, meh. End, horrid.

I read the review for Wildfire before buying it I saw that one reviewer had written something about how it seemed like Nelson DeMille had given up by the end of the book and just wrapped up the damn thing to be done with it. It all came to and end too abruptly and too succinctly. I wrote about this as a good thing a couple of posts ago (here) saying that if a reader thinks it ends too soon, it could be that they just want the book and the story to continue. Still true. Sadly, it could also mean that the story just stinks. I think that Wildfire falls into this second category.

It's one thing if the author starts the novel with a spectacular opening sequence as The Lion's Game did. It's another if the opening sequence is boring, plodding and silly with the villain explaining his plan to take over the world while sitting around a dinner table as he did in Wild Fire.

Lastly, it was way too James Bond movie silly, with secret, underground, hidden layers, a ruthless villain and his silent body guard, an army of mercenaries and a plan to nuke the entire world. It left me dumbfounded that the person who wrote it could still be taken seriously by anyone after they had read it.

I liked The Lion's Game, enjoyed Nightfall, but so found everything about Wild Fire so reppellant as a reader and author that I doubt I'll try another DeMille book.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

First Line from and Old Friend is a Dan Browner

I like Nelson DeMille novels (here). I especially like John Corey novels. I don't know why. John Corey and I would definitely not get along in real life. I don't like Yankee jackasses, . . . nope, not even Donald Trump. Still I like Nelson DeMille's John Corey so I'm looking forward to reading Wild Fire (here) despite the first line which seems lacking in verve.

I’m John Corey, former NYPD homicide detective, wounded in the line of duty, retired on three-quarter disability (which is just a number for pay purposes; about 98 percent of me still functions), and now working as a special contract agent for the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force. 

The guy in the cubicle facing me, Harry Muller, asked, “You ever hear of the Custer Hill Club?” 

“No. Why?” 

“That’s where I’m going this weekend.” 

“Have a good time,” I said. 

“They’re a bunch of rich, right-wing loonies who have this hunting lodge upstate.” 

“Don’t bring me any venison, Harry. No dead birds, either.”

DeMille, Nelson - Wild Fire

It's not just a lame opening, it's also a tad of a "Dan Browner" (see here). What's a Dan Browner? Go look at the link. It means he opens like having a guy look in a mirror and describe himself for the reader. "I'm John Corey, former NYPD homicide detective . . . ." That's a Dan Browner.

Fifty pages in and it hasn't gotten much better. Come on DeMille, pull it out of this nose dive soon!

Friday, March 4, 2016

NaNo Info Graphic

There is a great link (here) and shown below from Pinterest. Having been in many NaNoWriMo events over the years (see here), I can relate to much of what is shown in the little info graphic.

I agree with the 76% who say not to edit as you go. NaNo works best as a "brain dump." I just write as much and as fast as I can. Sure the final product is completely different, but the final product is also twice as long, so it's naturally never going to look like the first draft.

I was surprised to find that 67% of the surveyed folks found that the time of day they wrote was crucial. For me, whenever I could find time to write was a blessing. Maybe that will change as my kiddos age.

Who the hell are these 12% who wrote on the toilet, or 9% who wrote in the car? I hope they weren't driving.

Review: The God's Eye View . . . Not as Good as the "Rain View"

I've read quite a few books by Barry Eisler (see here), most of them as a part of the John Rain series. I thought they were fun because they were outside the norm. First, it used a first person point of view for the protagonist. Secondly, John Rain was a bit of an anti-hero; former CIA assassin now a freelancer, half western, half oriental. Lastly, all of the books were filled with what I thought were some wonderfully poetic writing. Good to find that Barry Eisler's non- John Rain books are as good. Not better, but as good.

The God's Eye View (here) is a pretty fun book. The cast of characters are all quite diverse and fun to know more about. One of the main characters, Marvin Manus, is like John Rain in that he is a unique assassin, in this case he's deaf. The main female character too is an interesting character. I think he spends a bit too much time going into the back ground and depth of character of the villain who I found to be the least engaging of the bunch, but still, it was all worthwhile.

What I didn't find? Those poetic lines that I like so much. In Hard Rain (here) Eisler wrote:

I moved deeper into the comforting gloom, along a stone walkway covered in cherry blossoms that lay like tenebrous snow in the glow of lamplights to either side. Just days earlier, these same blossoms had been celebrated by living Tokyoites, who came here in their drunken thousands to see reflected in the blossom's brief and vital beauty the inherent pathos of their own lives. But now the blossoms were fallen, the revelers departed, even the garbage disgorged by their parties efficiently removed and discarded, and the area was once again given over only to the dead.

The prose in The God's Eye View as a tad more pedantic and less flowery. I've come to expect a bit more from Eisler. In the past he has reminded me of James Dickey (Deliverance) and Pat Conroy (The Lords of Discipline) who I felt also have more poetic quality to their writing. The God's Eye View offered none of that.

All in all, it was a good thriller. Fun to read and worth the short time it takes to consume. Still, I'm looking forward to getting back to the John Rain series.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

This First Line Gets a Big Fat "Meh"

Not an idicator of the roller coaster that is the rest of the book, Barry Eisler's The God's Eye View (here) starts off with a whimper by discussing an old man dreaming of fishing waking up to his secure phone.

General Theodore Anders was dreaming of marlin fishing when the secure phone rang on the bed stand next to him. He sat up immediately, concerned but not unduly so. He’d been awakened plenty of times over the course of his career, and by much worse than a telephone. 

He blinked and reflexively scanned the room by the dim light of the bedside digital alarm clock. His wife, Debbie, continued snoring softly beside him. She’d learned to tune out NSA’s intrusions almost immediately after he’d been appointed director. If it were an internal problem, he wouldn’t be able to tell her. If the problem were external, she’d see it on the news soon enough. Either way, she didn’t want to know, or at least not before she had to. She was a good woman. 

He cleared his throat and picked up the handset before the unit could ring a second time. In the army, he’d learned to impress his superiors with an image of constant readiness. The habit had stayed with him long since his superiors had become his subordinates.

Eisler, Barry - The God's Eye View

Don't be fooled though or put off. Well worth the time to read the rest of the lines, even if the first aint that great.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Am I Really Going to Read a Cat Mystery?

Upon just reading the title I poo-pooed it immediately (see here). The article is In the World of Cat Fiction, Fur Flies Over Whether Stars Get Speaking Roles Cat Mystery! by Jennifer Maloney and at first I thought Pshaw! How silly. But then I read this:

Ms. Murphy’s talking Joe Grey leaves evidence in squad cars. He also has the police chief on speed dial. In Ms. Fry’s series, a thieving tomcat named Rags silently collects business cards, photographs and a pouch of diamonds—clues to murders, kidnappings and a jewelry heist.

Now I'm intrigued! It sounds like fun to build a mystery with a non-talking protagonist. 

For a long while I had an idea for a mystery that included a young kiddo and an old guy shut in. He would sit in his wheelchair at home and hear the mystery from the young kids perspective. Hearing about this about cats solving mysteries makes me wonder if I didn't take it far enough. Maybe the wheelchair bound sleuth should be a victim of stroke and although he retains all the faculties of his mind he can't relate them to anyone easily.

Sadly, as all this was swirling around in my head I read this:

Once, during a mystery conference panel, “I got up there and said, ‘Cats that speak, they’re an abomination.’ ” Then she turned tail and wrote a book about a talking ghost cat.

After reading that, I'm beginning to think these folks are just a bunch of wackos.

I went to a writing class/editing class for one of my first novels. Surreal doesn't begin to describe the experience. It was in an old dilapidated home in the middle of nowhere. When I went in I met the editor. He was a huge, seventy year old man, obese really, and he waddled around his home, barefoot, in a pair of ratty old boxer shorts and a grey wife beater t-shirt throughout the entire time I was there. I was immediately mad at myself for buying five sessions up front.

I would have thought this was some sort of strange "come on" except there were three of us there and the other two writers found nothing strange about this attire from their mentor. We all sat down, and were offered "Lean Cuisines" by the editor (I have no idea why) and started reviewing our writing. One writer there, who was quite proud of his work and went first, was writing about a mystery/thriller about a missing girl from the point of view of the blood hound who was tracking her.

I have read Watership Down and many other books of fantasy and sci-fi were there is something other than a human providing the context and being the main character. I have to tell you, it takes a lot more talent than I thought to pull it off and be taken seriously. Sadly, my writing partner did not have that talent. Secondly, the boxer shorted editor did not have the talent to help him either.

Meeting this editor, sitting around that kitchen table with the flap of his boxers falling open at inopportune times, the dusky, dirty bare feet and the Lean Cuisines, and the book about the kidnapping being told from the POV of Hank the Bloodhound, I'm surprised I stayed with this witting thing.

Still there is obviously a market out there for this kind of thing, so who knows. I plan on looking to see if there is a free one on the Kindle just so I can get some idea of what a cat might say.