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Friday, January 13, 2012

Measure of Darkness - a review

I was at once intrigued and beguiled by the bubbling point of view of administrative assistant Alice Crane, who basically narratyes the entire story for us with tongue-in-cheek humor. Naomi Nantz, private investigator extraordinaire, has put together a team of retired law enforcement, attorneys, and hackers, not to mention their live-in cordon-bleu chef, to review and resolve those crimes that lesser human beings cannot handle.
In this case, the team is brought in by world famous child rescuer and former FBI agent, Randall Shane to help solve the murder of a MIT professor whose five-year-old musical child prodigy has been kidnapped and for whom Shane has been set up for the disappearance by murky unknown shadow-government agent-types.
When Shane is kidnapped from what was supposed to be the impregnable walls of the Nantz offices, the team takes it personally and sets out to sleuth the truth, rescue Shane, and find the missing child. In a web of deceit that leads to upper levels of government conspiracy to the Chinese triads, we are whiplashed through a fast-paced thriller and left with a well wrapped satisfying package.
The Alice Crane point of view throughout, especially when the action takes place out of her immediate view, becomes awkward. I thought the incessant babbling of the female view point a little heavy-handed, but this was before I found out that Chris Jordan is a Nome de plume for Rodman Philbrick, a man writing as a woman, and then I realized he over-dramatized the female role which affects the style. Another irritating habit is that each character exhibits the same sense of humor as the author (and narrator) which produces only a skin deep character evaluation. Elmore Leonard’s rule of writing Rule #10 should be applied, ‘try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.’ The book has a fine plot, effective outline, and is a scintillating thriller, but would benefit from being effectively edited.

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