Monday, September 17, 2012

Answering Review Request: Trouble Shooter by Bard Constantine

Bard Constantine asked me to review his novel "Trouble Shooter". Being a detective story I was about to tell him 'no' but the detective lives in a science fiction setting and his request was superb so I agreed. I'm glad I did. "Trouble Shooter" delivers on several levels.

The first of which is character. The protagonist, Mick Trubble, has a vivid personality. He doesn't take himself or anything else too seriously yet still plays for keeps. It was a joy to read him narrate this adventure. Even better, his personality being this way is perhaps the most critical plot point in the story. On the flip side, other characters do not receive the same develop. This story is told by Trubble and so the other characters are filtered through him, which does more to develop his own character than theirs. They're good characters and I liked them (especially Poddar's friend, Rob) but they're overshadowed by the first person protagonist;an understandable flaw.

The second is the plot. This plot has more twists and dark secrets than a New Haven politician. Revelation follows Revelation like an onion with the same eye-widening effect. While this works well for page turning it sometimes feels as though Trubble is bouncing from one informant to another with a fight in between. Thankfully Mr. Constantine adds other events to prevent this pattern from gaining a stranglehold on the narrative. The other problem with the plot is re-read value: thrillers rely on suspense and plot twists which disappear after the first read. Again, Mr. Constantine provides another lure: Trubble's narration adds charm to narration that would otherwise be bland.

This is the start of a prospective series yet the book's conflict is resolved. That's huge for me. I love it when authors resolve a book's plot while leaving the door open for more adventures. The ending is very satisfying. I'd go as far as say it's my favorite part of the story.

The third is setting. Mr.Constantine knows how this world works and what it looks like etc. I always appreciate that in a story and that kind of effort in an author. The problem is the first person narration. Personally, I don't like first person narration because it doesn't make sense for someone to narrate the setting or their continuous thought pattern. "Who are they talking to?"  Without a justification like a  frame narrative or intentional fourth wall breaking, it simply doesn't make sense and so Trubble talking about a facet of the city, while interesting, is somewhat jarring.

One thing about the setting I should definitely mention is the dialect. There's a glossary up front for terms used in the book and what they mean. 'bought the farm'=die and 'berries' is slang for 'money'. On one hand I liked this because it added to the setting but on the other it was occasionally confusing and I had to return to the glossary.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "The Trouble Shooter" a B+

Click here for the next review request: Cloaks of Vermin and Fish

Click here for the previous review request: The Shadow of Black Wings

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