Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hey. Wait A Minute.

You know, I just devoted a whole blog entry to worshipping Suzanne Brockmann, and last night I finished the first of her books that I would actually rate a C. What's bizarre is that up until I woke up this morning, I would have rated it a solid B. But something about the plot occurred to me, and I realized that the situation Brockmann set up in this book kind of really sucked.

Okay, SPOILER WARNING here. I'm going to talk about the details in Hawkin's Heart (previously released under the title It Came Upon A Midnight Clear), so don't read further if you don't want to.

Summary in a nutshell: William "Crash" Hawkins is a Navy SEAL/black ops specialist who has the only-in-romance-novels ability to completely shut down his emotions when necessary. And this gift comes in very handy when Crash comes home to spend time with his dying cousin, Daisy, and her long-time lover and Crash's commander, Admiral Jake Robinson. During Daisy's last weeks, Crash becomes close to Daisy's personal assistant, Nell. After Daisy dies (hey, I warned you), Nell and Crash share their sorrows in that never-fails-to-make-you-feel-alive physical way before Crash dumps Nell's ass, offering the my-job-is-just-too-dangerous-and-secretive-for-me-to-love-anyone excuse the Navy SEALs invented.

Fast forward a year and Crash finds himself accused of possibly the worst crime he could ever imagine. Admiral Jake has been assassinated, and the ballistics reports indicate that Crash is the killer. Of course Crash didn't do it. Nell shows up to help him, and the two of them go on the lamb to prove Crash's innocence and so that Crash can extract vengeance for the murder of a man who'd been like a father to him.

Okay, so far so good, right? A great road-story set up. And honestly, I can't say that I had any problems with the book. I liked Nell (except her name - I never warmed up to this name because it reminds me of Jodi Foster in that movie Nell, plus I picture a woman named Nell to be an old widow with a long gray braid who likes to tend the wildflowers in her crazy overgrown garden and always has a jar of suntea sitting on her back porch). I liked Crash. The setting and action was wonderfully depicted. The romance scenes were fresh, the sex scenes sexy, the dialogue natural. All of the hallmarks I've come to expect from a Brockmann title were there, and I stayed up until 1 last night to finish it.

Except for one minor thing. Admiral Jake never died.

For some reason - a reason that completely escapes me - the big-wig military dudes decided to make it look as if Admiral Jake died. They let Crash be arrested for the crime. They let him spend time in jail, let him lose the respect of his fellow Navy SEALs, and let his reputation be destroyed past redeemability. They destroyed his career because in being involved in such a high-profile crime, Crash's identity became so well known he could never consider working on covert ops in the future.

Mostly, though, these military dudes let Crash believe a beloved friend had died. They let him believe that he could face the death penalty for a crime he not only didn't commit but was never even a real crime in the first place. How does one go on trial for murder when the murder victim is still alive?

This morning when I woke up, I realized the utter ridiculousness of this entire premise. Not just that something like this would never happen, but also the fact that what these people engaged in was nothing short of the psychological torture of an innocent man.

And even more bizarre was Crash's reaction once he learned that Admiral Jake was still alive. He was overjoyed. Glad to see his friend breathing and to know he would recovery fully. Not once are we given any indication that Crash might just be a bit...oh, I don't know...pissed off royally at being used the way he was.

Because as far as I can figure, that was what the military big-wigs were doing. Letting Crash take the fall, "allowing" him to escape so that he would track down the real killer. Kind of a risky maneuver if you ask me.

Thing is, I knew all along that Admiral Jake was still alive. And I knew this not because Brockmann gave us readers information that she did not give Crash or Nell. As far as we readers knew, Admiral Jake had died from the gunshot wounds he received.

Except, I'd already read The Admiral's Bride, which happens later in time. So I knew that Jake would go on to find love again even after losing his beloved Daisy. BTW - TAB is very good. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it and like Brockmann.

How's come it took a good twelve hours for the wrongness of this book to gel with me? Why wasn't I throwing this book against the wall from the second poor Crash started to take the fall? Part of the answer to this is because it wasn't until the end that I realized it wasn't Admiral Jake's idea for him to fake his own death. I guess I'd been giving this whole idea a pass because I figured Crash would eventually understand when Jake proved to be alive, knowing his friend had set up the only situation he could think of to reveal the assassination conspirators.

I do grade this book down because of this situation. I think what they put Crash through was cruel beyond comprehension, and Crash's lack of resentment over that pushes him into the realm of characters who don't feel real emotions.

Even so, I enjoyed reading this book because it was well written. Which I guess goes to prove that craft can make up for a less-than-stellar plot. I personally find it easier to accept a weak plot if the writing is good than I do a great plot rife with poor writing. I can never manage to get past the problems to even see the story.

In this case, I got so caught up with the characters and the action that I never stopped to realize how bogus the story itself was.

1 comment:

Karmela said...

Thanks for the warning about Hawken's Heart. I too was a Suze fan, but her books are starting to sour on me now. Too much "damsel in distress." Why can't the women be the operators?