11 May 2012

By the pricking of my thumbs

Legal thrillers | Mark Gimenez (with an aside on Michael Crichton)

Well, it's clear enough that I read a lot faster than I write! Sorry for the delay [not that you care :)].

First off is The Common Lawyer, in which a biker-lawyer (a lawyer who rides a bike, no, not a motorbike, why does everyone assume a bike must be motorised?) whose 'speciality' is traffic tickets, suddenly finds a billionaire at his doorstep, wanting to retain his services. First, he wants to build low-income housing and needs Andy's help in getting locals to agree to the land use change. Then he gets floods of conscience about his ex-girlfriends, all 17 of them, because of his son, who is dying of a super-rare cancer. He wants to locate them and pay them millions, secretly, to assuage this suddenly dominant conscience. And Andy agrees to all this, because he is an unambitious laid-back guy for whom all this money is a flood that floats all his boats. Up until his life is in danger, and he starts getting smitten by conscience. OK, by now we're more than halfway into the book, and at the risk of spoilers.

Sample paragraph three, chapter 1:
True. But then, a certain degree of insanity was part of the job description for a hammerhead. Point of fact, you had to be freaking nuts to ride a mountain bike at these speeds over a single-track hacked out of the wilderness and teeter on the esge of a steep ravine with nothing but a foam-padded plastic crash helpmet standing between you and organ donor status. Nobody in his right mind would do such a thing.

Rating: Eminently readable, well-done suspense.

So why do I now have qualms about Mark Gimenez's books, having praised them well enough already? I'm getting deja vu here—the last writer who gave me these subliminal something-is-wrong-heres was Michael Crichton, who wrote these mainstream sf books that brought him fame and adulation. Crichton turned out to be a misogynist. Don't believe me? Check out the female characters in his books. All of them are flawed. It's like Crichton is visibly trying to write sympathetically about women, but he's finding it tough, like trying to write sympathetically about rabid skunks or baby-eating crocs. The only non-2D women in his books are baaaaad. Way bad, unreliable, evil out of confusion, and confused they must be, trying to do a man's job in a man's world. Like his editor told him that he need sympathetic women characters because the last person who wrote a bestseller without a single woman in it was Alistair Maclean in the early 1970s. Or like his marketing person told him women won't read books without women in it. Or like the token black or something. But he didn't really believe it.

Gimenez's women characters are sympathetic enough, mostly, or are they? The heroine in The Common Lawyer is a strong character, and very easy to like. The girls, in The Colour of Law and The Abduction are smart, savvy, intelligent, tough and very very cool. Note, the girls. Not the women. And his descriptions of the women in Dallas or Austin are positive when describing their physical charms (no other word fits), and negative when talking of their psychology. Baaad women. Sit. Stay. My subliminal analyst is screaming and jumping up and down.

The Abduction has rave reviews, and deserves them. It's a taut, well-paced story of, no prizes for guessing, the kidnapping of a girl. Her geeky and inept father is about to become an internet billionaire (it's not a 'program' or 'software' or, Tron forbid, a 'game' that makes his fortune; in these days it's 'an app'; maaaan, get a grip, an app??), and her mother is a basilisk of a lawyer who frightens to death all she glances at. But the guy who's going to find the kid despite all odds is her drunk of a grandfather, despised by all, a Vietnam war hero. With a mysterious connection to the girl. Assorted things which make me mutter and grind my teeth include a psychic and this aforesaid mysterious connection (I can say aforesaid in a review of a legal thriller, don't cavil at me), and a priest who gets someone in Confession after 30 years, and 'now said words he did not understand: “Because there is a bond you and Gracie share, a bond with evil that must be broken.” “Yes, there is. Father, how do I break this bond?” “You don't. Someone must die for the bond to be broken.”' Aaargh. Deus ex machina alert! But hey, these things apart, it was a fun read.

Rating: Grit your teeth at the Mysterious Connection and read the book. It's a fast read with lol moments, and very low on the gruesome meter. Mark Gimenez has a way of making words dance to a fast and peppy beat.

Now let me get back to I'm feeling lucky, and check if it describes 'Google from the inside' with accuracy or not.

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