Elmore Leonard said: I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

Sunday, 16 November 2008


When I stated my intention to read and review the latest McKenna, despite my troubled relationship with this author’s previous work, it was suggested that I might end up reading ‘with extra suspicion,’ or ‘looking harder for the wrongness.

Guilty. Despite my protestations, that is exactly what I’m doing. See, I’ve read up to page 71, and - most un-Mckenna like - the hero (Val) and heroine (Tamara) haven’t even met. I mean, sure, Val has inappropriately purloined video footage of Tamara naked, and gotten suitably worked up over it (there should be a drinking game), and there has been some disturbing Skanky-Villain-Sex, and a most satisfying torture/execution of Random Henchman No. 1 (more to follow), and the evil guys (there are two sets of insane villains in this one - neat) are so over the top Eeevil they positively cast the last lot (the child ‘organ pirates’) into the shade.

And yet... and yet, I'm not hooked/ enraged/ cackling with glee and self-hate.

Is it because Val is supposed to be a cold blooded killer, without conscience, personality or desire - an efficient operative - and yet everything he does belies this? Despite constantly reaching for his analytical calm, employing his mental ‘data processing technique,’ Val has so far been jerked around by everyone he's met.

As for Tamara, deadly assassin, seductress and unrepentant badass in previous appearances - well. Tamara has a developmentally challenged adopted daughter, and nightmares of a past in which she had to bury her mother and baby sister. And nightmares, and crying jags. And endlessly long inner dialogues in which she questions her suitability to mother.

It’s been 71 pages and no one has even mentioned any ‘yummy girl juice.’ Could it be... am I disappointed?!?

Actually, no. A little bored, though.