AMERICAN CROW by Jack Lacey

American CrowA British tracer of missing persons, something of a P.I., rough and ready type, is sent by his company to the US to find the missing daughter of a London financier.   This is a noir-ish kind of detective story, minus the detective, having instead of a detective this P.I. guy.  Lots of action, and really basically a fun read.

What I Didn’t Like:   First of all, our guy seems to have had a problem in the US in the past for which there is a warrant out for his arrest.  Although the author bio states he left his journalist job 12 years ago to write fiction, this book seems to be the only one.  So there is no prior book explaining Blakey’s legal problems, nor any backstory given.

Second, because of his legal problems, he is smuggled across the border into the US from Canada.  WTF?

Third, he is in Minnesota and the dialog sounds like something a non-American would dream up to be Minnesotan talk.  Really awful.

Fourth, the trucker he is riding with leaves him eating at the restaurant while he goes to ‘check the oil’ with a lady trucker he knows.  He doesn’t return fast enough for Blakey, so Blakey steals his rig!  When he stops several states away, he wakes up in a restaurant parking lot to see some bikers working over a Somalian store owner.  He steps in, saves the guy, and takes him to a hospital in the guy’s car.  Meanwhile, the bikers burn his rig — in which he has left his coat, duffle bag with clothes and his wallet.  And he is supposed to be the best of the best hot shot smart tough guy.

So far so stupid.

Later on, he hitches a ride with that same lady trucker, who appears not to recognize him.  Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine… oops, sorry.  That’s Casablanca.  Of all the thousands of 18-wheelers plying the highways of the USA at any given minute, who stops to pick him up but a minor character from several chapters ago.  And who leaves him in the rest stop restaurant, after he has again left his coat and money in the truck cab.  Oh, pleeze.

What a freaking loser.   Because the story opens with him at the seaside in France or someplace with his formerly estranged 17 year old daughter.  He is on the beach, she is on some sail thing on the ocean, waves at him, collapses, disappears off the sail thing and drowns, from an epileptic episode.  We are then told he thought all that epilepsy stuff was over, and even though he knew she shouldn’t drink, had suggested a couple of wines at lunch time to celebrate her birthday.

Loser. Idiot.  Capital Jerkwad.

And we are only one third into the book.

Fifth, the over use of the word “clock”, as in notice, as in I clocked the door that was half open…  And it appears on almost every damn page!  Very tedious and annoying.  Dude, use a thesaurus, please!  I guess it is meant to make him sound edgy and slangy, but …..

Sixth, his descriptions of buildings and places in the US sound like he has never been in the States.  For instance, he is going to call on a druggie who lives in one of those awful low income hi rise buildings, and goes into two apartments, and inside  these apartments there are stairs to the second floor of the apartment.  When was the last time you saw two story apartments except in luxury condos?  When did you ever even hear of apartments composed of two floors in LOW INCOME HOUSING!  He talks about depressing the door handle.  That would be a lever style handle.  No way.  American doors all have round door knobs.  Levers are for the rich and decor-minded.  Also, the living rooms have doors in his story.  American living rooms never have doors.

Seventh:  It sure could have used a goodly amount of editing and proofreading.  “…weary grey eyes that had seen far more than it’s fair share of life.”   Its?

Eighth:  It is basically about King Coal, the coal mining industry in the Appalachians and the environmental destruction thereof, and the greed of the over-the-top Evil Company Owner.   And the absolutely unforgivably awful attempts at writing southern regional accents.  Please.  Just don’t do that.  It would be me trying to render a Yorkshire accent on paper, me who has never been to England.

It’s one of those kind of books that you enjoy while you are reading, and then when you are done, all the inconsistencies and improbabilities and strangenesses start to come to the fore in your mind, and you think, gee, I really liked it, but now that I think about it, it was awful.

What I Liked:  It was a good story, fast paced, with interesting characters.  I enjoyed reading it, in spite of all those things I was just bitching about  pointing out.

I got it free.  Every swing of the bat isn’t going to be a home run.

 

Controversial mountain top removal coal mining site.

Controversial mountain top removal coal mining site.

 

 

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