Thursday, September 26, 2013

Monster, by Bernard DeLeo

The fast paced action and interesting plot of this novel almost make up for the hackneyed characters and their predictable if inexplicable behavior.  There's a team of FBI agents who appear to be professional if not overly competent, led by Agent Reskova.  They're joined by an Army colonel, McDaniels, who's an expert tracker (and black ops type assassin).  After dispatching a bad guy and rescuing a little girl, McDaniels does what you'd never expect a Delta Force guy to do:  he loses his cool with the press and is videotaped doing so.  This leads to his nickname, "cold mountain."  Ugh.

Now what's an adventure yarn without sexual tension between a single FBI team leader and a "break all rules" kind of Army Colonel?  Ms. Reskova folds like a house of cards, in scenes that are both laughable and embarrassing, to sensible readers of any gender.  Ugh.

Our hero, McDaniels, is a lone actor.  I don't know if that is typical of colonels, who would usually be in command of a battalion of, say, a few hundred to a thousand soldiers.   This is the least of our concerns though.

McDaniels believes in killing bad guys and the team of FBI agents (reasonably) believe in due process of the law.  So when more and more agents cross over to the dark side, favoring extra-judicial management of perpetrators (i.e., execution) over following the law, I didn't find myself cheering.   Oh it all seems fun and games, until they make a mistake and hurt an innocent person.  Not to mention that the concept of ignoring inconvenient laws does not resonate with me as the right approach for a democracy.  (The unlimited violation of individuals' civil rights provided by the Patriot Act is bad enough for heaven's sake!)

The last line of the book is, therefore, rather ominous to my ear, as a (previously stable) FBI agent acknowledges the addition of another member to their team by saying, "Now we have a full death squad."  Ugh.


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