I'll buy any "mystery" set in L.A., but there wasn't a lot of mystery or plot in this book. The main characters are such good guys, that they're unbelievable. They continually rewrite contracts with their stars and screen writers giving them more money "because they're doing such a good job." There's chapter on chapter of dialog and setup that doesn't develop into or support any plot, in fact three quarters of the way through the book I was wondering what the mystery was. All that said, I'd probably buy it again. For all its faults, it was entertaining in a very light fashion.
Back in the mid 60s, John D. McDonald introduced me to the mystery genre and to my then hero, Travis McGee...and as McGee calls himself, the "Authentic American Male." It's now 2012, I'm 60 years old and the philosophies of McGee that seemed so cutting edge and liberating to my 14 year old mind, now seem so 1964. Travis, who talks about treating women as 'equals,' calls the "better specimens"..."a fine girl." His equality is based on the fact that he is...an authentic male and they are after all, women. Travis is all for an open life style, not tied down by the establishment and the chains of job, mindless security and the suburbs, but he also has no problem preaching against the depravity of the 'butch' life style...again aimed at women. For a guy who loves the "female species," he seems to have a problem with them...that is until he 'cures' them with his unbelievably compassionate and thoughtful lovemaking. As an "authentic male" myself, I find this just a bit over the top. I could go on, but I don't want to discourage anyone from reading this series. The beauty is that they are extremely well written and they truly reflect the era. Travis is an idealized 1964, free thinking individualist. Travis is what men in 1964 wanted to be, a Playboy magazine ideal, authentic male...not a man in a grey suit carrying a briefcase. I imagine as I revisit this series I'll find Travis disliking the hippie movement, but his philosophies in this book are a true precursor to the spirit that spawned the late 60s anti-establishment 'rebellion.' Free thinkers in a movement that remained a 'man's world.'
This is my idea of an espionage novel. A ton of twists, plotting and intrigue, and all absolutely believable. No James Bond moments. No miraculous escapes relying on super human abilities or gadgetry, and the World isn't about to end. In fact, there really is no win or lose and the goods guys aren't a ll that good, the bad guys not all that bad. The characters are well thought out and are portrayed as real people. It's hard to find a good spy novel. This is a winner.
First off, let me say that I buy this book again. That said, there were way too many "give me a break" moments in this book. First off the premise that all takes place in two days is unbelievable and really not important to the plot. Then there are the miraculous escapes from a multitude of situations that require items (i:e explosive chord) that simply materialize in their back pack, an item that also simply materializes. One escaped from prison with only the clothes on his back, the other enters the country disguised as a man carrying only an empty guitar case . . . so where'd they get the fake blood packets? Too many James Bond moments as convenient resolves to impossible situations.
Not only are the characters in this book unbelievably stupid, its plot could not exist if basic facts and realities weren't suspended. So this guy owns his business, a corp. with 1000 shares, all his, but he has has to register them with the "exchange." What's that about? This is a privately held business. One guy owns the total 1000 shares. It's not publicly traded, but to develop the plot some of the stock has to be listed for sale by the "exchange" otherwise the book would end. OK, I'll ignore that. So, the business is in trouble. It owes 17 million or something like that to the bank and will default in a week if it doesn't get its hands on an additional million bucks. If it gets that mil, it has an over 50% chance of staying alive. Since he's into the bank for the 17 mil, the owner, on the advice of his financial director goes to a shady business loan broker who has a scared face and a hook for a hand and literally signs over his life and his wife's life for the cash. Give me a break. Is this guy a total idiot? . . . and show me a legitimate bank who has a client into them for 17 million, who will definitely and again that's definitely default on their loan in a week . . . show me a bank that wouldn't invest another mil to turn this sure loss in a better than 50% chance for payback, and that doesn't take into account that a couple of hundred grand over the million boosts the 50% payback chance significantly higher. But then if he went to his bank and honestly reviewed his spreadsheets with them, and the bank acted as any bank would, there wouldn't be a book. The hook handed broker is killing people and only wants the business for its land, well it goes on . . . This book can only take place if its primary characters make decisions that defy all logic, if basic business rules don't exist, and if the business community is made up of a mix of idiots and thugs.
I had to stop listening two hours from the end.
This is one of those books, or movies for that matter, that in order to "work" operate on an unrealistic premise, in this case that no one believes the protagonists story that the antagonist is a serial killer. The problem is that the protagonist's story is 100% believable and only an idiot would ignore the evidence that's presented. However, if that were the case the plot would end and there wouldn't be two hours of "book" left. Well for me there isn't because I can no longer listen to the parents, police, and FBI all ignoring the fact that this guy was married 6 or 7 times and all of his wives died in accidents on their honeymoons. None of the authorities want to devote the ten minutes or so it would take to confirm this easy to confirm fact, and the protagonist, Britt, although a reporter doesn't seem to have the intelligence to carry with her the "evidence" of these marriages and honeymoon accidents even though they were all documented in newspapaers, with pictures of the guy and his various dead wives. The level of stupidity of the all the characters is remarkable and at this point for me, intolerable.
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