Friday, August 27, 2010

Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann ***

I got this on audio, thinking it was perhaps a re-release of an older book (seems I read something online that implied that?) But when the year 2010 was mentioned in the book, I decided it must be a new book - and sure enough, it is.

I have also been reading, for a while, about all the former Brockmann fans who haven't forgiven her for a few things, one of which was in the Troubleshooters series when she paired up a hero and heroine that everyone was disappointed about. There had been 2 men and 1 woman sorta dancing around getting together as background characters in several books, and when the book for that woman was written, well, a lotta folks just didn't like who ended up being her hero. Personally, I didn't care. I liked that book as well as the others in the series, and plan to keep reading them.

And then there's the folks that feel she pushes her own "political" agenda about gay rights in her book. I'm not sure what she says is what I would consider "political" but yeah, she has an ongoing gay character who got his own book and his own hero in Troubleshooters, and uses some ink to speak out for gay rights through the characters.

My own opinion is that Brockmann writes well, her mystery-thriller-SEAL stories make great reading, and I've been happy with the audiobooks too, even when she uses 2 narrators, one of whom is Patrick Lawlor.

Now my opinion about the audiobook of Infamous.

She does spend a leeetle too much time ramming her gay rights agenda down our throats. I hadn't really noticed it before, but I think even if I hadn't read that (and not agreed until this book) I would have been aware. One gay character with one monologue about gay rights are ok is fine. Hell, 20 gay characters and one monologue about gays are ok is fine. But that second riff on how it's ok to be gay, and "I knew this guy.... blah blah blah and he's gay and"... I got it. I. Get. It. OK OK OK!! That's #1.

This story uses a made-up historical event that vaguely smacks of the shoot out at the OK Corral. It's supposed to be something all children are taught about in school, and everyone knows how the sheriff was this incredible hero who killed 7 in one blow, but his wife was abducted and murdered anyway, poor fellow. Then there's the Bad-to-the-Bone Bad Guy who is bad bad bad (booooo!) Kid Gallagher, the murderer. Our heroine, Allison Carter - historian - has written at least one book about the Shining White Hatted Sheriff and his nemesis (boooooo!) Kid Gallagher, and is now serving as historical accuracy consultant on the set of the umpteenth movie about this subject.

OK, here's my problem #2 - Allison. She's this HISTORY PROFESSOR who really, really hates the Bad Guy. She's not the least bit objective about this story. Her facts do not seem to come from original documents and her research came across as shoddy.

Let's meet our Hero - AJ Gallagher. Gallagher. Yes, turns out he's the great-grandson of Kid. Kid died at the ripe old age of 101, when AJ was 10. AJ lost his dad in Vietnam. AJ served his country in Afghanistan or Iraq, where PTSD turned him into an alcoholic who left the service with a mental discharge. Then he starts seeing Kid as a ghost, a ghost who sends him to Jubilation Arizona to change Allison's mind about her book. Because as it turns out, she has the facts wrong - the Sheriff was Bad, and Kid was the True Hero at the shoot out.

Here comes my problems #3 and #4 - the narrators. First: I did like Lawlor in her other books, and he was ok in this one. Kid speaks in 1st person POV - which usually works for me. But Lawlor used the same exact voice for both Kid and AJ, so I had to listen hard - if he used "I" then it was Kid, otherwise it was AJ. Very, very confusing. And his other voices - well, the gay character had affected speech, the stereotypical lisp. Both narrators used that affectation. Hmm. And the female narrator spoke like she was on speed. At one point I wondered if I had accidentally turned on the 2X speed function. Then there was her Minny Mouse on helium voice at the beginning. (were they paying her by the word?? I don't think I can even talk that fast!)

There was some mention (from Allison's point of view) that AJ had a slight Western drawl - and she used it at first, but Lawlor never did. It was as if all he had was 2 voices - his regular voice and his gravelly voice. Lawlor's voice doesn't quite capture tall, dark and handsome for me - his pitch is a couple of notes too high for me, but truly in the TSS I thought he was great at capturing the thrill and excitement of those dangerous adventures. Not so in Infamous.

OK - you have to take a leap of faith and go with the ghost part. AJ can see and hear him, but no one else can. Was it his PTSD? His alcoholism? Or a true ghost? Her world-building for ghosts was not exactly convincing but I went along anyway. When the ghost touched people, they felt a sort of cold shock. The ghost was able to zoom around and solve all the problems. And at the end, when he... well, spoiler territory. Very Deus Ex Machina.

There were too many plot contrivances for me. The bad guys were 2 dimensional, the actor on drugs with a keeper seemed overdone and unrealistic, the FBI couple too... something, the stupid movie set details didn't ring true for me. And Allison was a bitch - she seduces AJ, although it wasn't as subtle as seduction - she JUMPS AJ then accuses him of lying to her and such. Sheesh. His POV told us he was going slow; her POV told us she was instantly hot to trot. So why is she getting mad at him as if he forced her?

Brockmann, however, still managed to make it a story I had to finish and even enjoyed a few scenes in - I really do like her writing voice, even if I rolled my eyes several times over the details that just didn't add up for me. That's why, in spite of my having so many issues with the story and with the narration, I have to give it a 3 - mediocre, but I didn't dislike it.

No comments: