Dan Brown vs. Robert Parker
I rarely toss a book aside after reading only a few pages. But the heave-ho was necessary after only 8 pages of reading Dan Brown's Deception Point.
I switched to Robert Parker's Promised Land
instead -- and I'm happy. ... The problem with Deception Point? It wasn't believable from the get-go.
Before you snort with pulp-fiction-is-pulp-fiction derision, I'll try to summarize Roger Ebert's views on such weighty matters. Ebert was once debating a movie with one of his post-Siskel cohosts, who asserted a flick's technology and gadgetry were all wrong. Ebert guffawed and responded: But it's science fiction!
He went on to explain how humans will always be humans -- and you have to make humans believable within fantasies. He gave the movie a thumbs up, despite the subpar special effects. My reaction to Deception Point ran roughly along the same how-to-judge-it lines. The Washington Post reporter in the first pages was all wrong. The power-hungry senator was all wrong. The strong-woman daughter of the power-hungry senator was all wrong -- and you just know she's destined to be taken by the hand and rescued by a strong-man man, who, of course, doesn't know he's a strong man yet. Etc. ... Parker doesn't take his characters so seriously. They're also more believable. Fifteen pages into Promised Land, and Spenser is already craving an upscale lunch at Anthony's Pier 4. Remembering the book was written in 1976, I thought to myself, They really believed Pier 4 was the cat's meow back then.
Therefore the scene was believable. ... That's probably more than you ever needed to know about Hub Blog's profound views on pulp fiction. But I had to say it.