Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Roger Hobbs to Kellerman to Dan Brown

The flipside of the police procedural is the criminal procedural. GHOST MAN by Roger Hobbs is a new example of this subset, a debut thriller about a casino heist gone wrong, two dueling crime kingpins, and the independent "ghost" between them, trying to understand his mistakes related to another heist five years prior. Narrator Jack Weber is superb both in conveying the downtempo tone and in animating the characters with appropriate and believable accents. If you liked The Sopranos you'll like this book, as it shows the simplistic criminal mind in action, always looking for shortcuts to the wallets of "suckers" and "losers" like you and me. As for me, I did not care for The Sopranos, however. I always feel a queasy disgust watching or hearing about guys who pretend to be normal while pouring Drano down the throats of the innocent. A narrative that is sympathetic to that viewpoint begs criticism. And here the "ghost man" is never really revealed. Jack takes risks for the adrenalin rush of it, not for the money. For the feeling of power he gets, which of course is an illusion. And you are expected to accept that this is different enough. Not enough, I say. But that's just me. So while I can't fault the writing, and especially not the narration, I do fault the emphasis on weapons and ammo and the how-to theme (over the motivations of the characters, who are base and deluded rather than complex.) If these guys are so smart, how come they don't get jobs on Wall Street and fleece good people for many millions more than can be gained robbing armored cars of Federal bank shipments? Back to police procedurals (justice vs. chaos), the new Jonathan Kellerman study, GUILT, is narrated by John Rubenstein, about cold case murders brought to life among the secrets of the privileged in Los Angeles.
Excerpt INFERNO by Dan Brown:

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