Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Intent to Kill by James Grippando

I didn't get past page 65 or so of this book. I'll tell you why.

The first paragraph of the book starts with "The first thing Ryan found was a hand with part of an arm." But this has nothing to do with a crime. It's a Mr. Potato Head doll that's been thrown about the house. As a reader, I hate having my time wasted. The author feels that he can lure you in then pull the rug out from under you, and make you feel like a dope. Maybe this is some kind of foreshadowing trick, I don't know. I didn't care enough to find out.

The opening of the book was so heavy handed, and after the Mr. Potato Head bit, I didn't want to spend any more time with this book. I realize that in these pot-boilers the plot carries the book, not the characters. We also need a set up. Some newsworthy event that stirs our compassion and intrigues us in some way like a plane crash or train wreck, and this cataclysmic event will then give us a hint of our main character's unique capabilities. But in this book, the set up is not just heavy handed it teeters on the edge of tired cliche.

I know this author has his fans who love his work. One friend of mine told me, "You'll never guess who did it." I should be able to guess if I'm an attentive reader. I just know I don't want to spend the better part of the day being deceived like I was at the beginning. Many of these types of novels will introduce last minute evidence or characters to flush out the story, and for me that's cheating. It's like introducing a new rule in the middle of a baseball game. Sorry, it doesn't work. I'd like to see some of these capable writers reread In Cold Blood and attempt to do something half as good.

After I set this book down, I don't fling books aside anymore, I picked up Shot Through the Heart by Mikal Gilmore. Now that's a book worth reading.


Pamala Knight said...

LOL! Thanks for the review.

I have a friend who loves this author's work and so I immediately pointed her here to read your opinion. She agrees with you somewhat but seems to enjoy that particular device in his writing. Me, I just enjoyed the cranky-assed rant that warns those of us not so enamored of that style.

Jane Steen said...

I also enjoyed your review. Interesting to see what can really put a reader off from page 1. The author probably thought he was being so cool and gripping with this beginning that you'd fall in love with the book RIGHT THERE.

Leigh Russell said...

I couldn't agree more. It annoys me when writers like Agatha Christie (hats off to her for spinning a good yarn) reveal right at the end that the killer was secretly married to his lordship's ostracised son and stands to inherit a fortune... How was the poor reader expected to guess that before the revelation on the final page?

In Cut Short, the first in my new series of thrillers, I've tried to insert a clue near the beginning that the reader will overlook - but could have spotted. The trick was to make sure my detective could miss the clue, while still being plausibly very intelligent. I think I've succeeded (and readers so far seem to agree) - but you'll have to decide for yourself.