I enjoy a good whodunit as much as the next girl/guy and I am relatively easy to please when it comes to the type of detective novel/thriller so popular today. I do, though, expect a few things from the author:
- fully fleshed main characters,
- explicit descriptions of crime scenes, and
- side plots to reveal more about the makeup of the main character’s life, among them.
Last week, I decided to try a couple of thriller writers who are totally new to me. So, I selected:
- The Watchman by Robert Crais
- The Innocent by Harlan Coben
Let’s see how they stack up against my thriller criteria…
Hmm… what do I say about the paper-thin storyline? The plot involves a Paris Hilton-esque type of heiress who stumbles upon a crime being committed and then enters the FBI’s Witness Protection Programme. However, after 2 attempts on her life, it becomes clear that the killers have inside information on her hiding places. So, she is then handed over to Joe Pike (an ex-soldier, ex-cop) who then goes on the rampage trying to find out the identity of the bad guys. Throw in terrorists, drug smugglers, teenage LA gangs, and you have a typical potboiler.
I didn’t care too much for the book. If made into a movie, it would be a Steven Seagal B-grade entertainer, which is not my style at all. The writing is average. The character build-up is painful (it’s really hard to identify/sympathize with a rich, beautiful, spoilt heiress). There is tons of action though, and I suspect that readers who have read the Elvis Cole series of books might like this book. For a first-time reader, this book was pretty mediocre…a quick airport read, nothing more, nothing less.
I hope other books by Robert Crais are not as bland as this one.
Matt Hunter is a good guy who is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He intervenes in a college fight, his opponent ends up dead, and he ends up in jail. Once out of jail, he tries to rebuild his life. He gets a job, gets married, and is about to have a baby, when his happy life is all turned upside down again. He and his wife have to now fight hard to protect their life from both their pasts. How successful will they be?
I liked this book very much. It works primarily because the protagonist Matt Hunter is very likeable. He is the all-American boy struck by tragedy, and it is easy to identify with his problems. The book highlights how one wrong/careless move can impact you for the rest of your life.
The story and the plot is also suspenseful, with a lot of twists and turns. Some might say a bit too many twists and turns, but I liked it. On thinking back, the ending seems a bit weak, however, because the story is so fast-moving, I didn’t really feel too disappointed, or even think too much about it.
At the end of the day, this was one satisfying book. I will definitely be picking up more Harlan Coben books. Any recommendations?