I have read/listened to all of the previous Charlie Hood novels as well as the Merci Rayborn series from this author and generally enjoy Parker's novels. Unfortunately, the continued interactions with the Mike Finnegan character means this will likely be my last. I believe it was somewhere in Book 3 that an otherwise interesting story went Twilight.
I have purchased the last two books hoping that there would be some sort of believable resolution to the meddlesome and wholly unbelievable (and annoying) Finnegan but it seems he is in for the long haul. If you are open to books about otherworldly notions, the novel may still be interesting but I found it off-putting, distracting, and don't feel that this aspect of the book adds anything to the story.
Mike Finnegan aside, the general plot didn't feel at all compelling. There many elements in the story that either didn't seem believable (despite my lack of drug-lord interactions) or don't really move the plot along in any meaningful way -- Hood's journey to the castle, Heredia's narcos, the McKenna-Armenta interactions. I quite enjoyed Iron River and the previous books and wish Parker would return to this style.
The thing that frustrates me most about Andrew Peterson's books are the need to verbalize everything that goes through the characters heads and the need to repeatedly emphasize that Nathan and Harve are good guys and never take a life needlessly. Speaking of repetitive, playing the drinking game with "take a knee" would surely leave anyone passed out before the the first third of the book is over.
But back to the first point. I do like when authors put a lot of detail in books, it helps you feel like you're there with the characters. This is not, however, what Peterson achieves. I like his stories but, somehow, I end up feeling like he did research on a subject an by George, it's going into his book!
The dialog between characters feels unnatural to me. He'd turn a perfectly fine, "You pump; I'll pay" into "Pull the remote lever in the floor to open the gas door, turn the cap counter-clockwise to remove and carefully fill the tank while I pay the attendant. And make sure you don't top off the tank, it can release harmful vapors to the environment." And then there are the warnings about texting and driving; the constant, you drive, I'll dial conversations; and on and on.
I also am not a fan of Dick Hill. To me, he seems to overact and should be restricted to westerns. I encounter books narrated by Hill often so I'm likely among the minority on that score.
I have listened to the previous three books and this one is the worst, by far. I kept checking my music player to see how much longer I had to endure until the book was over.
If you like Jack Reacher, A. Shaw, or Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels, Forced to Kill is in a the same "one riot one ranger" vein. Whereas I like the storyline, I have two problems with this book
1 - There is quite a bit of distracting dialogue in nearly every exchange between McBride and Fontana where the two explain why an action is taken. Very often the reasoning doesn't need to be described (even to me and I've never even held a gun) and I find myself pulled from the story wondering, "Why would two professionals feel the need to verbalize that?" If the reasons are more complex, it still doesn't warrant conversation between two professionals. About 70% of the descriptions, I can do without, the remainder, I wish he'd handle more like Greg Iles who can describe very complex circumstances affecting the storyline without making the reader feel that they're reading a footnote or forcing a character to say something that no normal human being would.
2 - The author seems to go to great pains to ensure that McBride and Fontana are humanized despite the actions they are "forced" to perform in their missions. I'm all for not making the Type A hero a Class A jerk. But, when they're not killing the bad guys, McBride and Fontana are overly-apologetic and a bit whiny.
Having said that, I will give future books a try. I did go to Peterson's website and didn't find other novels so I am assuming (hoping) that the characters will develop in future books. I listen/read a ton of books with recurring characters and they often start out with shaky bits. In early Crais books Joe Pike was a man of few words with even less personality and Cole's quips were over done to the point of being annoying. But, I liked the story and eventually the characters developed real personalities. Hopefully, McBride and Fontana will as well.
I don't know that I can be objective on the narrating, I'm not a Dick Hill fan. He always does the same type of character and they always sound John Wayne-ish to me, which is not my cup of tea.
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