Thursday, November 06, 2003

Finished the latest book from a new author (new to me, anyway) that I had hoped to like, but ended up disapopinted by. Dying for Dana (Forge, $24.95) by Jim Patton is portrayed as being a hard-edged crime novel in the tradition of George Pelecanos (there is a prominent jacket blurb by George), with the humor of an Elmore Leonard.

Sounds like a promising book, right? Unfortunately, the execution doesn't match the hype. The book is the second in a series about Portland Assistant D.A. Max Travis ("one of the country's best prosecutors.") Max is a killer in the courtroom, but a loser in love. Not that he actually does much in the way of prosecuting any crimes and never makes it into the courtoom. Even given that, the plot might have been interesting enough, had the author decided to focus more on it.

The main problem with the book, though, is that Patton seems unsure of what kind of book he's trying to write. There are scenes of hardboiled crime, fairly bloody and shocking even, but then most of the book is given over to long, sappy passages about Max's romance with an attractive woman, who turns out to be a big time loser -- and just happens to be involved in his big case! He moons over her, spoons with her, pines for her, then whines about her. Over and over, on and on. Ugh...It's like the worst Harlequin -- except it's supposed to me a mystery!

I kept reading it, although I don't really know why. This one deserves a pass.