**spoiler alert** Ok, here's my beef with Steve Berry, which was also prevalent in a previous book I read of his, The Venetian Betrayal, he uses chara**spoiler alert** Ok, here's my beef with Steve Berry, which was also prevalent in a previous book I read of his, The Venetian Betrayal, he uses characters as nothing more than plot devices to, theoretically, carry a story forward. Therefore, the character is not real or fleshed out. Yet he uses them as main characters. They act in ways that are irrational, illogical, that no person would EVER actually act if they were actually the sort of person that he describes them. He simply uses them to add more drama to the plot or to make things more difficult for the protagonists, throw a wrench in their plans, etc. I can't STAND this type of thing, it's sloppy story telling, in my opinion.
It's too bad, because I actually thought the rest of the book was really good. The idea of the Lincoln Myth intertwined with the Mormons was actually quite interesting and really enjoyable. But the story was ruined, for me, with this ridiculous character. After awhile, I would bristle every time she came up because she was just so jarring that it took me out of the story.
I'm about to reveal some spoilers, so don't read beyond this if you haven't read the book yet...
What really gets me about his use of this technique is that he did it with a seasoned character in the Lincoln Myth, Cassiopeia Vitt. What the heck?! So she's this seasoned spy: intelligent, smart, rational, unemotional. Yet, her actions in this book are anathema to everything her personality indicates in past books: 1)She's not religious and turned her back on the church over 11 years ago and only decides to contact this fundamentalist Mormon upon Stephanie's orders but then decides to join the cause because Stephanie omitted a few facts? They're in the business of espionage! That's not new! 2) Cotton tells her that Josepe killed an agent with a family and she doesn't believe him. No, she chooses to throw her lot in with the Mormon wackadoo despite the fact that she's admittedly in love with Cotton, because surely he goes after fundamentalist religious types with gobs of money for no reason, despite being retired. 3) She steals the Mormon book that Cotton won when there was no reason for her to be involved in that situation, other than her devotion to Josepe. She had no idea what the significance of the book was but the fact that Cotton was there obviously meant that it mattered to the US government. Yet she just handed it over to Josepe without inquiring as to why. That is SO sloppy.
And there was no explanation as to what made her develop this insane, illogical devotion to Josepe so quickly. The book covers a span of 5 days. They hadn't seen each other in 11 years. They had nothing in common. She's not actually religious and they hadn't spoken in all that time. He's a fundamentalist Mormon and that's all he talks about. What, pray tell, Steve Berry, made Cassiopeia become an irrational, devoted follower of Josepe? She loved Cotton but not enough to be on his side of this situation? That's silly. That's illogical and irrational. That is not good story telling because no one would actually do that. Or at the very least, she wouldn't have SUCH a hard time believing that Josepe killed someone when Cotton told her. Doesn't love usually come with some amount of trust?
She gets mad at Cotton for following her, despite going off the grid. Well DUH someone is going to follow her, because she's not doing what she's been recruited to do. And now she's throwing a temper tantrum? Fine, maybe withholding facts can lead to frustration. But that's the mother of all temper tantrums if it makes you go all dark side and join the side of evil. Cassiopeia is more level-headed than that. That's a juvenile choice to make, she's much more calculating and intelligent.
And then when Josepe is killed, she somehow vows revenge and finds it an unforgivable act? Um, Josepe was a psychopathic murderer that shot someone in cold blood IN FRONT of Cassiopeia and was going to do it again, a lot, because he found it perfectly justifiable. Not to mention that he wanted to dismember the entire United States. That's what spying and espionage are all about, doing dirty work behind closed doors. She's LIVED it for YEARS. And now she's acting like it's all a huge shock to her. That is completely out of character for her. That is NOT Cassiopeia. I mean, by the end of the book, I was just hoping someone would shoot her and end my suffering. She was a pain in the ass that served zero purpose other than to get in the way. And her anger was unjustified.
This book was an absolute and total delight! Lord Byron is a mess, but he's a brilliant and funny mess. I was laughing out loud within the first few pThis book was an absolute and total delight! Lord Byron is a mess, but he's a brilliant and funny mess. I was laughing out loud within the first few pages and the witty humor continued throughout the book.
What's more, the author gives excellent insight into his background in order to describe Byron's actions and his present day circumstances. The fact that you're given this glimpse into his psyche in order to understand his current situation is actually extremely refreshing and gives Byron the sort of dimension and depth that is frequently missing from character development.
The mystery is also interesting and captivating, I was never left confused but always interested in where the story was going.
And all I'll say about the ending was that is was incredibly satisfying. I REALLY hope that Friedman makes this character a series of some sort, because Byron's wit and sass is too good to waste on just one book. ...more
**spoiler alert** The main character was not an hero or anti-hero, he was a sociopath verging on psychopath. He has no moral qualms for killing if it**spoiler alert** The main character was not an hero or anti-hero, he was a sociopath verging on psychopath. He has no moral qualms for killing if it suits his needs, even mundane ones. I always imagine an anti-hero rogue as someone like Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor but still honoring life. Instead, he feels only a slight pang of guilt for taking advantage of his girlfriend and mistreating her, a bit for killing his dog (which was totally unnecessary to the plot of the book at all and left me really unnerved!) and none at all for killing the prison governor and Arnold when there were other alternatives.
So if that's the case, why do the three murders he's set out to solve, that affected him SO deeply, matter at all if he sees human life as so valueless? If he's willing to make a decision to kill someone within a matter of seconds to suit his own needs?
I got to the chapter where he killed his dog, after that I skipped to the end. I had it with the main character, with his excuses for doing cruel things to good creatures and people. This book left me highly disturbed and I don't plan on reading any of Andrew Pepper ever again. ...more
I was actually really disappointed by this book. I love Susanna Gregory and the Matthew Bartholomew mysteries are my favorite series ever. Yet this boI was actually really disappointed by this book. I love Susanna Gregory and the Matthew Bartholomew mysteries are my favorite series ever. Yet this book had almost none of the humor that the previous books had and the whole situation between him and Matilda has been drawn out so long that I almost feel as though they're too old now to have any constructive sort of relationship. I mean, there have been 17 books and he wasn't a spring chicken at the beginning. I just don't care anymore, it's become burdensome. Furthermore, I felt like the characters lacked depth, even including Bartholomew and Michael. So hopefully the next book will be more exciting and have the old Matthew back with the usual humor that the previous books possessed. This one fell flat. ...more