Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Last Few Days...

First thing Monday morning, the day before The Lost Symbol was to go on the market, TG woke to find that Janet Maslin of the New York Times had broken the embargo and reviewed the book. A rave review, as a matter of fact. TG is so annoyed by this (the fact that she broke the embargo, not the fact that she gave it a rave review) he's not even going to link to her column. The LA Times broke the embargo as well. Usually when this happens, the publisher leaps in with denunciations, demanding an investigation as to how the offenders came by their copies. Since there has been nary a peep from the publisher on this score, I can only think they gave them the book themselves. If true, shame, shame, Doubleday. I would be glad to publish comments from them, or anyone else, on where these reviewers got their copies. And the reasons why they chose to break the rules. (Yes, yes, TG is not really so naïve to not know why they did what they did, but he'd like to hear their mewling, self serving justifications.)

TG stood patiently on line at Borders at midnight, along with six other hardy souls, bought his own copy and headed home to stay up all night to read. The fact that the reading session lasted till two AM is testament to the fact that the book is good, lively enough to keep an aging reviewer in his seat with open eyes. At least for awhile. Then it was up at six AM the next morning and back to the book, which was finished by 3:00 PM, the reviews written and sent in by 4:30. A long day, but the book held up well.

Because TG was contracted to supply the reviews to several outlets, the review of the book won't appear on these pages for at least several days. They pay, and, alas, TG readers do not, so let's give them some time to get their money's worth. I will at least say, the book is damned good. It was sort of like examining the original of something that one usually sees as a copy on a street-vendor's cart. The two items look pretty much alike, but after awhile one realizes that the workmanship on the original is far better than the knock-off. TG has reviewed scores of Da Vinci Code-like thrillers, and many of them have been very good, but there's no question that Dan Brown owns the franchise and perhaps others who follow in his path should start looking around for their own ideas in the future, no matter how tempting and lucrative it might be to ride along on the bandwagon.

And so, after a good night's sleep, TG rises again to resume his old life, where there are no mega-blockbusters in sight, no embargoes and no cheating newspapers, just a long line of thrillers, waiting for someone to sing their praises or point out, gently, sadly, their flaws and infelicities.


  1. As a former longtime newspaper reporter (Los Angeles Times, actually) I can say from experience that typically one person breaks an embargo - and when others do it, it's usually because they have learned of the first embargo-breaker. Because of the time difference between NY and LA, I suspect the NYT did it first and the LAT learned of this, and then jumped in to run its own review. Of course, what do I know? Perhaps the NYT and LAT conspired jointly to do this. Actually, do I really care? I couldn't get through the Da Vinci Code (hated it and stopped reading after a couple of chapters) and have no intention of reading this new book. (I didn't even like the movie.) However, TG will happy to know that, since I usually have a high regard for his reviews, two Ray Banks books (Saturday's Child, Sucker Punch) are now waiting for me at the library. (We'll see)I am bereft that there are no more available books in the Kurt Wallander series for me to read; I've finished them all. Well, slight correction: the newest one, recently out, has not yet been translated from the Swedish. :-(

  2. I can hardly wait to find out if this is a stand alone novel or first of a multi-part. Not having heard anything to the contrary from folks who bought it on Amazon with shipping to arrive today, my guess is that my prior guess is wrong and it is in fact just one novel. Probably one big ole novel, but one.

  3. Yes, R, your first guess was wrong. The novel is complete in one volume, but it is another Robert Langdon novel so it's part of a series that he now can continue into the future. I'm told that he sold one million copies the first day, which is ginormous but doesn't approach the record holder of Harry Potter at eight million.

  4. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  5. TG is always pleased to have new viewers and commenters. Chime in on anything. And if there's a subject you'd like TG to tackle, let him know.

  6. How about when are we going to see another Allen Appel novel? :)