The Kill Artist: Daniel Silva

I’ve decided to go back and re-read the initial offering in some of my favourite mystery/thrillers to see if what attracted me still does.

There is no denying the skill, but I’m currently in the mood for Downing and Furst’s “little man” style.

This one has the scaffolding of the long-running series, but is a bit off-footed in tone and writing, leaving huge holes in Intelligence operational details and the forward-story of the books to come.

What struck me most — negatively; it is jarringly disturbing — is how often cavalierly Silva puts his female characters into situations where they spit out, used and often killed simply to gain inches or points in “the game.” Worse, how willingly they are complicit in the abuse.

I can see how this would happen occasionally in real life, but it seems it is one of the most common, enduring scenarios in the entire series.

I wish it would end.

House of Spies: Daniel Silva

When you’ve been as prolific and acclaimed as Silva has been, it’s almost inevitable that sooner or later you’ll start to get sloppy, to slip. As Yeats said, “Things falls apart, the centre cannot hold.”

For me, it shows in the absence of tightness in the writing. The middle of the book is still highly crafted, but the beginning and end sees dense block of exposition, meaning too much telling, not enough showing, as I believe judicious dialogue provides.

Worse, it is too similar in plot to Silva’s previous offerings. Change a few names and details and you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate it from several of his most recent novels.

Not Silva’s best, but still very good. Your mileage may vary.

Nemesis Games: James SA Corey

While the Rocinante is undergoing a re-fit, the crew all goes off individually and we get to see them when they’re not part of their whole. Interesting, but even more satisfying when they all get back together again.

More individual back stories satisfyingly being filled in, even if the whole Free Navy success timeline is patently absurd.

Don’t Let Go: Harlan Coben

SPOILER ALERTS

In many ways, Napoleon Dumas, French-born New Jersey cop, is the mirror image of my favourite Coben character, Myron Bolitar (who actually makes a two-line cameo in the book; cool). Mirrored because in some ways they are so alike, but in others so different. Both are loyal to a fault to their friends and family, and have an internal moral compass that isn’t going to change for anyone. Nap’s moral compass runs a little less true than Bolitar’s, however. And that makes all the difference.

Coben is the master of describing average, ordinary people’s lives thrown awry from one small minor incident and DON’T LET GO is no different. As usual, the characters and story are mostly solid. I did roll my eyes over the vastly over-used trope of high school lives ruined from casual recreational drug use.

SPOILER ALERT: it was refreshing to finally see a story where former high school sweethearts actually have a happy ending.