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Chance's Take on Books

I'm a novelist who loves to read and discuss all things word-bound.

Currently reading

Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style
Virginia Tufte
The Chicago Manual of Style
John Grossman, Margaret D. Mahan
I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
Steve Earle
The Insider - Reece Hirsch The Insider is an excellent legal thriller debut. The packaging in itself is slick and professional and I admire the work being put into its marketing. Reece Hirsch may well be on the road to becoming a popular, mass market writer.

One of the most positive qualities of the novel is in the page-turning style and pace. It is a quick read, with a satisfying conclusion. The writing is clear and competent, but I noticed a few novice writer-ly quirks (being familiar with them as I am from my own attempts!). The quirks were minor, and quickly glossed over due to all the page-turning - so, who has time to quibble? The all-important question--what happens next--draws the reader forward.

I liked the novel, but didn't 'really like it' --for several reasons. First, the Russian mobsters only rarely stepped outside the Russian mobster stereotype. Elmore Leonard somehow skirts that line and does it quite nicely. I think Hirsch will arrive there soon. Several points during the read I cringed because the mobsters appeared and I easily predicted their actions. I was surprised that Will, the protagonist, did not glean their dangerous intent as well.

Which leads to my second objection: Will naively steps several times into dangerous situations - without learning from them. The result of his first encounter with mobsters should have been enough to warrant a different approach. Time, and time again, he follows like a cow to slaughter. Yet, in the beginning, he draws intelligent conclusions -- so sharp that they seem to voice the author's knowledge rather than ideas that could have been arrived at so early in the process. Near the end, Will grows brains again, and finally flees.

Other points of disbelief nagged at me during the read, such as a lack of Will looking for help and his return and concentration on work after physical trauma - just didn't feel realistic. (Fiction has to be more realistic than what might be actual reality - isn't that strange?) I expected Will to reach out for help from something in the system, government, or network of people he might know. Nada. He goes it alone, despite the devastating consequence of failure. Just didn't seem intelligent. In fact, it decreased the intensity of the danger.

I'm not certain I'm hitting my point, but, in summary, I was unable to suspend disbelief enough to sink into Will's world and predicament for a thoroughly enjoyable read. With all the thrillers out there, the bar is high, so I'm rating accordingly. Enjoyable read. 3 stars.