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The Honourable Schoolboy
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Wild Fire - Nelson DeMille Love it: a thriller with sardonic narrative and a smart-mouthed hero, which made the book more enjoyable. Within the first few pages, DeMille amused me with this gem, which is one of my pet peeves: “Now, everyone talks about killing Islamic fundamentalists and winning the war on terror—grammatical correctness would be ‘the war on terrorism,’ but this is a newspeak word.” I cackled! Whenever I hear talking heads discussing “the war on terror,” I invariably picture some poor phobic slob trying futilely not to dwell on the fanged thing that may be lurking in the closet.

Detective John Corey and Agent Kate Mayfield, his wife, are on the trail of a psychopath whose ownership of an oil corporation gives him the means to wage global-scale war. The desire stems (in convoluted fashion) from the events of September 11, 2001. With the help of other prominent and influential members of the mysterious and elitist Custer Hill Club, the tycoon has everything in place to pull off a staggering, unconscionable masterstroke that will change the face of the United States and the worldwide balance of power. Alas, when the rubber met the road, the plot could have used some tightening and tension-ratcheting; there wasn't much in the way of suspense.

The psychology of the book is interesting in light of the national feeling post-9/11, and the storyline, most unfortunately, becomes meaningful in a way not possible without those horrific events as a commonality. DeMille’s gritty characters are an adjunct to the psychology. They’re flawed and the organizations they work for are flawed, too, which adds to the complexity and believability of the plot—which it needed, as I alluded to earlier.

This was a traditionally published book (Vision), which brings me to the editing. Indie authors, don’t ever labor under the misapprehension that traditional publishing equals excellent editing. It ain’t necessarily so. Here’s a smattering of the shortcomings: “The info lady noticed Kate and I leaving [noticed I leaving?]”; “A handsome guy in tailored whites, whom [who] I just knew was the French chef”; “a.k.a. [aka]”; “Even now,. [stray period] with this apparent”; “The FBI in both cities are contacting [last I heard, the FBI, despite its proliferation of tentacles, was still a single entity]”; “Madox didn’t want Kate and I to know [didn’t want I to know?]”; and numerous others, including subjunctive and gerundive errors.

And on a final editorial note, the award for author’s favorite phrase goes to “informed,” as in “he informed me” and “she informed him” instead of the much simpler “said.” In a word, TMI.

Should all this keep you from reading the book? Not at all, but it certainly should give the editors at Vision pause.