Well, I said in my last entry that I needed some candy reading, and boy did I find it. Absolutely perfect airplane books,which is mostly where I read both.
John Gilstrap has created a nicely noir protagonist named Jonathan Grave. Except he’s not really “Grave” (there are a number of appropriate echoes to that name), but “Gravenow.” He shortened it because his nearest kin is a famous “guest of the state” after a lucrative career in corruption. Before he got sent up, said kin transferred virtually all his wealth to Jonathan. Jonathan, after a career of collecting scars and medals in the special forces, decides to use the money to do good. He sets himself up in business to help people who have special needs–like kidnapped relatives or the ongoing presence of a terrorist group in their neighborhood. Stuff like that.
I don’t know if Gilstrap’s readers demand a sameness of plot or if he lacks imagination, or if he just doesn’t want to fix what’s not broke, but both books involve anti-government militants holed up in the West Virginia hills honing their guerrilla skills in preparation for the big day.
Grave gets drawn into their plotting inadvertently in both books, running across their nefarious schemes while he’s doing something else. He’s an arrogant guy, though likable enough, and he makes plenty of mistakes, some of which get people killed. He’s also relatively amoral (apparently a requirement for the noir hero), at least when it comes to what’s legal and what’s not. He’s more interested in justice–his version–than he is in the law. He often sets up situations that mock the FBI’s need to sit around and wait for warrants, delaying while people die, when a good old fashioned storming of the compound would do the job without all the muss and fuss.
Most of the stuff isn’t particularly realistic. Isn’t meant to be. The characters are engaging, and in both books there’s an extra piece of action just when you’ve relaxed and thought things were wrapped up. Not high lit, but not meant to be. It pretends to be nothing more than it is, and if you like this sort of thing, that’s good enough. We all like our own flavor of candy.