Robert Beveridge's Reviews > The Fury

The Fury by Jason Pinter
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Jan 27, 10

bookshelves: amazon-vine, finished, owned-and-still-own
Read from January 01 to 15, 2010, read count: 1

Jason Pinter, The Fury (Mira, 2009)

The Fury is the fourth novel in Pinter's Henry Parker series. Had I known this, I would probably have not had Vine ship it to me, as I haven't read the first three books in the series. It doesn't help that I also missed in my skim of the product description that the book is published by Mira, and my encounters with Mira-published novels have, to date, been entirely unsatisfactory. This did, however, give me the chance to address two questions that have been sitting in the back of my mind for a while now. The first is what a book written by a male author and published by Mira would look like. The second is whether it's possible to read a truly episodic series out of order (or whether Parker's enduring Spenser novels are an anomaly in that regard). I now have answers to both, and they are about as I feared.

In this one, Henry is approached by a junkie at the beginning of the novel. He shoos the guy away, uneasy thanks to one of his reporter colleagues having just been assaulted the day before outside the offices. That night, he gets a call from a homicide detective. It seems the junkie, whose name is Steven Gaines, has been murdered execution-style, and that Parker may have been the last one to see him alive. The detective on the phone then drops a big bomb in Henry's lap which I won't reveal here, since the jacket copy actually gets it right for once and keeps all the spoilers out. In any case, Henry ends up needing, and quickly, to find out who killed Stephen Gaines. And thus the mystery begins.

I'll address the second question I had first, because it's by far the easier answer. I haven't read the first three novels in the series, and now I don't think I have any need to; Pinter goes way, way overboard in reminding the readers about events from previous books. There's none of the subtlety of the Spenser novels (which, for the most part, I also read out of order), where Robert Parker just integrated the events of previous books and went on with the story; Pinter feels the need to stop every time one of those subtle moments drops by and have Parker ruminate (with all the cud-chewing imagery that word should bring to mind) about the event(s) in question.

And, before tacking the first question, let me add a codicil to that above: the final plot twist (which comes only a few pages after the climactic plot twist, which is an entirely different, and equally badly set-up, animal) seems to exist here solely to set up the events in Henry Parker Book Five (the title of which does not, thank all that's holy, have anything to do with Half-Blood Princes). As such, it seems all too convenient given a number of observations Henry Parker makes earlier in the book. (Of course, if that's Pinter's goal all along, I'm entirely wrong about all this, but that is not something we'll know until reading Henry Parker and the Half-Blood... oh, forget it.)

Okay, so now. “What would a book by a male author published by Mira look like?”. Perhaps it's my limited knowledge of Mira's work (and if you've read Erica Spindler, you may understand my reticence to read more than a handful of Mira-published books), but those few Mira books I've come into contact with have all been written by women, and have all been the suspense equivalent of Harlequins. I don't want to call them “romantic suspense”, because there are some authors who have historically done that genre very well (two words: Barbara Michaels), and I don't want to cheapen those earlier novels. Men are not traditional writers of romantic suspense novels, so I asked myself the question. And to be fair, Jason Pinter is not a writer of romantic suspense, but I think Mira mandated that sort of angle. And thus we have Amanda, Henry Parker's better half. Not that I have anything against Amanda, as a character, at all. In fact, she was my favorite character in the book (aside from the nasty, ingratiating gossip reporter, Tony Valentine, who reminds me of far too many people I actually know). No, what bugged me about Amanda is that, in the same way Pinter stops the action to ruminate on scenes from earlier novels again, he also stops to ruminate on Amanda. The passages in which this happens are entirely separate from the rest of the text, and could have been excised without damaging the book in any way. Thus my belief that Mira mandated emphasizing the romance angle (and my corresponding belief that Pinter added those passages after finishing the novel, making no attempt at all to integrate them into the story).

David Thomson has said in more than one critical analysis of over the years that documentaries about the making of certain films would likely have been far more interesting than the films themselves. Perhaps it's my inner conspiracy theorist talking, but I have a similar feeling here—I think the account of the writing of The Fury would probably have been a better book than The Fury itself is. But while I realize the tone of this review has been relentlessly negative, I must add as a footnote that Pinter does one thing very well. He keeps the reader turning the pages. It took me a while to get into the book, whose first three or four chapters are phenomenally slow (and I find that odd in a series novel), but once I did, I finished the rest of it over the course of a day and a half. It's not great literature, nor is it even great genre writing, but there's enough “what happens next?” to make it worth reading if you're stuck in an airport and have nothing else with you. ** ½
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