Wednesday, December 1, 2010

EVEN by Andrew Grant review by The Senator

In a crime thriller, telling the story is everything, otherwise there’s nothing to read. The pulps and noir novels of the early twentieth century are the parents of today’s crime thrillers. Like their parents, the plot, characters, and story lines of modern crime thrillers run essentially the same; thus the distinction between a good and bad thriller is the telling of the story, the narrative flow, and the likability of your characters.

Andrew Grant has released two novels in the David Trevellyan series. Although his newness shows through in several respects, his books also show great promise because he knows how to tell a good story. Throughout the book Mr. Grant gives appropriate detail to surroundings and events so that the reader is able to develop a sense of the place without getting bogged down in the details. Also, the pace of the storytelling is just about right for a crime thriller; I felt like I was carried along fast enough to be able to keep reading, without feeling rushed.

Even is the first novel in the Trevellyan series and it starts out engagingly enough. Our hero sees a body in an alley and stops to investigate. From there he is framed for murder and gets caught up in a local criminal syndicate’s plans to skim millions in Social Security payments and kill an FBI agent. After taking care of the syndicate’s boss (or so we think), Trevellyan decides to help the FBI track down a body part smuggler who also happens to be an international terrorist (with no connection to the criminal syndicate). It goes without saying that Even keeps up a pretty frenetic pace. While the pace is enjoyable, I found it a little difficult to wrap my mind around two separate plots running in what amounted to two separate novels written together as one. Additionally, because Grant had to tell two separate stories in one novel, I ended up wanting to know more about each. For example, although we get the picture that the female leader of the unidentified criminal syndicate is evil (and I mean EVVILLL), we never really get to know her; she has the proper credentials to be a thriller novel bad girl (sadistic, cruel, rules with an iron fist, etc.) but beyond that we never learn anything else. Once the bad girl was finally dispatched by Trevellyan I didn’t get as much joy at her demise as I might have had if I had gotten to know her a little better. The same goes for the other antagonists in Even. Maybe I sound a little like a psychologist, (“Yeah, I know you’re evil, but how does that make you feel?”) but if I’m going to feel good about someone getting whacked, I want to know more about them than just their evilness. The scant attention paid to the antagonists is probably a product of how tightly packed Even is, since it is really two novels in one.

Trevellyan has some of the same problems as the rest of the characters; we don’t get to know him very well in Even (though we do somewhat in the next book in the series, Die Twice). About all we learn about him throughout the novel is that he wants to do the right thing, has really tough fists, and is handy in a tight spot. Although these are really the prerequisites for an action hero; the best ones always have something else, a part of their character that makes us want them to win their fights with evil. Every chapter in Even starts with an excerpt from Trevellyan’s past life, either his childhood or military training, that attempts to shed light on him. Although the excerpts do help the reader to see how he became the action hero he is now, they don’t tell us who he is. Why does Trevellyan love truth, justice, and the Queen (he is British after all)? If I knew a little bit more about him, I would find it even easier to root for him throughout the novel.

Notwithstanding its shortcomings, Even is a great start for a new author. As Mr. Grant expands the world of David Trevellyan I expect he will only get better, which means I will have better reasons to: like David Trevellyan, hate the various bad guys, and read another installment in the series.

THE SENATOR-
I am not really a senator, in fact “The Senator” was my poker nickname back when I played poker. I don’t have any idea where the nickname came from, or why it stuck. I can only suppose that: 1) I took a really long time making up my mind on whether to bet, 2) I talked a lot, or 3) I was a conniver. As anyone who knows me can attest, any of these possibilities could easily have been the motive behind the nickname.

All my political aspirations having come to naught, I am now a law student at the esteemed S.J. Quinney College of Law, studying to someday become an attorney. Having realized, however, the law being much less prestigious than it once was, I am branching out into other fields of endeavor, such as book reviews. I also work as a law clerk at the Salt Lake County D.A.’s Office. Although my literary tastes run on somewhat different channels than Kate’s, I am excited to be a contributor to her blog.

9 comments:

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

Not a bad review Senator, but I think I might be able to fill in some of the blanks regarding David Trevellyan. He is after all, my most beloved character.

David is about 6'4" tall, with beautiful dark hair. In EVEN he is wearing a 3/4 quarter length black leather jacket with black pants and black boots. If I remember correctly, he has incredible blue eyes...it's possible I'm confusing them with Jack Reacher, Lee Child, and Mr. Grant-someone correct me if I'm wrong. He has a half empty one bedroom apartment in Cromwell Tower some place in England. His favorite bible story is David and Goliath because he loves how David faced his enemy ALONE. Favorite board game as a child was Chutes and Ladders, but I think it's referred to as Snakes and Ladders in England. And NO, I'm not looking this up as I type this comment.

Considering he's being likend to a new "james bond" I think the less we truly know about David Trevellyan at this point the better. And now I'm just giving you crap, Senator, because I can! Thanks for tackling this series. I plan to discuss it myself at some point, but since I'm biased it's nice to see a man's perspective on David Trevellyan. As you all know...Andrew Grant could write a book on silk worms and I would gladly shout it from the roof tops and probably convince my friends that a silk worm farm would be in our best interest. Thanks for contributing to my blog. Can't wait for the review on DIE TWICE!

angelabarra99 said...

I think it sounds like a good book and the senator did a great job with his review, however, I dont know how he did not know David Trevellyan's favorite bible story....

Christine said...

I like the new Review Blogger - The Senator. His thoughts go along with what I thought too, however, tying two different stories into one is quite talented on Andrew Grants part. His mind is ALIVE, ALERT and ALWAYS searching for ways to write great stories. His description in EVEN is wonderful. You never had to go back and re-read a paragraph because the situations he placed you in were very exact and descriptive. I think The Senator is right, what actually made the evil witch (I'm being polite) tick? What happened in her childhood for her to turn out to be so calous, evil and disasterous? You know what they say, "you improve with age" like a good piece of seasoned cheese. Andrew Grant is aging very well as far as I am concerned. Yeah!!!!

Sara said...

I think that this was a good review. I, myself, am torn between wanting more character background and appreciating less information so that I can use my imagination to fill in the blanks. I guess it all just depends on what I am reading. Still, it sounds like a great book!

jchrz said...

Senator, I really have enjoyed your contributions to Kate’s blog and feel that you have brought some very important aspects and details from a male’s point of view of the book. I think it is going to be fun to have your and Kate’s different opinions for the bloggers to enjoy. This will give all of us women, a male’s un-bias opinions to make an informed decision on why to begin this new series written by an inspiring author. Thanks again for your review of Even. I now have plans to get started on Even as soon as I finish with CRAVE, by JR Ward.

rbruner said...

I really enjoyed the Senator's interpretation and insights into this engaging book! this is a great addition, to the blog... write on...

gbeck said...

I haven't read the book yet, but I really enjoyed reading another viewpoint on one of the books that Kate loves. Having a male's viewpoint it a great addition to the blog.

Stephanie said...

I think it's great to have a male's perspective because we all know how madly in-love Sabrina/Kate gets with all these "hot male" characters... Great job on the review Senator! Maybe you two can do a dual book review? Do you think you two would FIGHT?! Nice addition to the blog!

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

I have to agree that The Senator brings a bit of seriousness to this little lame blog that I love sooooo much. Thanks for the feedback, and I hope that between the two of us we can make our readers laugh as well as think! I'm sure we all know who will be making us think...ME! just kidding, kind of!