Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Many Times Does TG Have to Tell You?

Thriller Guy thought that by now several things would have become obvious: one, any thriller writer with the sense God gave a goose would have by now become a strict follower of this blog; two, all thriller writers would have received the word: Stop knocking people down with bullets! Now you've done it, you've made TG use a damn exclamation point. You're lucky he didn't resort to ALL CAPS.

TG is continuing his practice of noting these errors and, for the time being, no names will be mentioned. But be warned, you've got about another six months for the word to spread, after that when TG “outs” you for this foolishness he's gonna start naming names. This is akin to having your moniker published in the newspaper for frequenting prostitutes, or, as Lincoln supposedly told the story, when the man who had been tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail was asked how he liked it, said, “If it were not for the honor of the thing, he would much rather have walked.”

This week's honoree of shame...

The report of the pistol was little more than a cough, but McLeod's body was flung backward by the impact of the shot. His chair toppled over and he crashed to the floor, limbs splayed, his mouth opening and closing, his eyelids flickering.”

Pretty exciting, but wrong, wrong, wrong. For those of you who are new to these pages or those of you who can't remember why you're not supposed to knock people down with bullets, here's the original entry on the subject. 

Now let's move on to more pleasant subjects: What TG has been reading that's good. But wait, first another complaint: in the last five books TG has read and reviewed, the following words were found in the titles: Secret, Templar, (twice) Code, and Ark. In fact, the last two novels TG read were both about a couple who, over the course of several books, seeks to find the lost Ark of the Covenant and in the process stumbles upon a secret that will Change the World as We Know It. Interestingly, one of these books was good and one was terrible; why this is so will be the topic of a future entry. Suffice it to say, TG is getting tired of these DaVinci Code knock-offs though he supposes that there are still plenty of readers out there who can't get enough of the religious artifact thriller. These books often enough make the bestseller lists.

The hard part is winnowing out the ones that are good and add something original to the overall concept. One such recent novel is Search, by Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens. Their take on the archeological quest format includes alien visitors seen as Gods by early man and an entirely new species that cross breeds with humans. Modern day humans are tasked with the keeping of the Secrets of these early visitor/ancestors and their vicissitudes in doing so makes for a compelling read. Those of you who aren't still entranced with these sorts of thrillers should probably not bother, (TG is weary of hearing from people who take all of his recommendations to heart and end up disliking his suggestions) but aficionados who still can't get enough of the genre, this is a good one.

Old veteran thriller writer Frederick Forsyth has a new book out, The Cobra, and TG gives it his stamp of approval. All newbie thriller writers are given one piece of advice first thing, read Day of the Jackal, by Forsyth. The book was published 40 years ago and was one of the first, if not the first, to use journalistic methods in writing fiction. Forsyth was a journalist and he meticulously follows The Jackal as he researches his target -- General DeGaul -- and assembles his sniper kit and makes his way to the killing ground to set up his attack. The book is still a good read, and while many, many others have followed in Forsyth's footsteps one still can do far worse than structuring one's thriller on Forsyth's template.

In Forsyth's new book, The Cobra, an American President who sounds a lot like Obama decides that he will bring all the resources of the U.S. to bear on eradicating international drug trafficking. He does this by first declaring drug traders and their cartels to be terrorists, which allows him to use all new and extensive legal procedures to destroy them. He brings in retired ex-CIA director Paul Devereaux to head up the team that will implement the effort. Devereaux, known as The Cobra from his CIA days, is old school, smart, ruthless and unrelenting in using his widespread powers within every arm of the government. Forsyth meticulously lays out the way this would work in the real world, and gleefully goes about putting the operation into motion with devastating, for the drug traffickers, results. Then he shows why this wouldn't work in today's world, and it's a rare reader who won't wish that it weren't so. TG's only reservation is that Forsyth is a strict conservative and occasionally his political leanings come through a bit on the soap box level and mar the even flow of the action. While it is true that no president will ever give any individual the powers to take on such a task, most readers will feel, as did TG, that wouldn't it be nice if our politicians would some day stand up and have the balls to actually kick some bad guy ass? Don't look for it happening any time soon. If ever.


  1. A more believable way that scene would have gone down would be like this - given that the bullet was subsonic - from the description, and extremely well placed to cause that rag-doll unconsciousness or death:

    “The report of the pistol was little more than a cough, but McLeod's body jerked in surprise. He started to stand, but the reflex ended almost before it began and he sagged back to his seat. His dead weight toppled the chair over and he crashed to the floor, limbs splayed, his mouth opening and closing, his eyelids flickering.”

  2. This is what I'm talking about, people. Joel here has rewritten the scene and it's just as good (better, really) than the fly all over the place original. You don't need that fakey movie crap.