The Promise by Robert Crais

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A promise kept…..  ****

 

Unlike recent novels by Child, Connelly, or Kellerman, Robert Crais has avoided using a template to cookie cut out a new story.  Instead, we have familiar characters involved in a completely different type of story.

The ever threatening and quiet Joe Pike is here, along with the determined Elvis Cole. But Crais has allowed Pike to float in the background and Elvis never finds himself in a predicament as in most of the previous novels.

The plot revolves around the potential threat of terrorists who may be getting their hands on high explosives. Rather than limiting this to an action story, Crais also develops this into a character study. The addition of Scott James and his K-9 Maggie amplify this as Scott struggles to do what he knows is right, yet contradictory to orders from his superiors.

Jon Stone, as the stealth warrior, moves from someone we should fear to a more complex man that not only has a heart, but one who can bring justice to a seemingly impossible situation.

The weak spot is in the evil Mr. Rollins. A villain who plans very methodically, seems to know when to bail, yet in the end does a rather stupid thing. Too often in these kinds of stories this is the case, otherwise our main heroes would not survive.

Crais has given us a good read, a different type of story, and after a long wait for this book to come out, I would say he has kept his promise.

This one gets four stars.

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Purity by Jonathan Franzen

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When is a book about a character but isn’t……   ****

 

Having been to a book signing where Jonathan Franzen spoke and read excerpts from Purity, I had great expectations for his novel.

This was my first chance to read one of his books, and I look forward to reading Corrections and Freedom. Needless to say, I am now a fan.

Based on the title, one would think this is Purity Tyler’s story, but she is almost a minor player.  The main parts of the book are more about the people around Purity, nicknamed Pip, and their lives before meeting her. Franzen takes us back in time, several times, to give us different viewpoints on how events led to the current situation in which Purity finds herself.

A thread that holds the story together concerns each of the characters’ relationships with their parents, more to the mother than the father, except for one character. Another is how sex affects their own relationships with the people around them.

The narration is long and although at times boring, Franzen kept me turning pages with his excellent writing, to see where the story would lead. About the time I was ready to say “come on already”, the story would either twist, or Franzen would have another character reveal their side of the story.

There are no characters to like in this book, yet their stories are compelling and because of  the depth with which Franzen deals with each one, I had a good understanding of why they are who they are. This stands as a beacon for novels about unlikable characters.

This is a novel that takes time to read and digest, and unlike the title, is not for the pure at heart.

I give this one four stars.

 

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

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Crossing over to bad writing…   *

 

When a novel is categorized as mystery, thriller, suspense, one expects it to have at least one of the three.  This novel has none of the above.

There is no mystery, as we know who the bad guys are from the beginning.  There is no thriller aspect as nothing ever happens. There is no suspense, even near the end when Harry Bosch faces the culprit who is pointing a gun at him, we know how that plays out.

The writing is embarrassingly simplistic.  Not as bad as see Dick run, see Jane run too, but close. Connelly writes as though his readers are not all that bright, explaining things that need no explanation.

This could just be me, but after seeing the televised version of Bosch, I could not help but wonder if this was meant to be a script for that show. It too lacks any energy and does not do justice to the Harry Bosch of the earlier books.

The only good I can say is now I am free to read other authors who still write good books, as this will be my last of Connelly.

This one gets one star and that is being kind.