Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Avalanche Pass by John A. Flanagan


So. First, this is touted as a "Jesse Parker Mystery." Although I hadn't read any other of these so-called Jesse Parker Mysteries, I have read plenty of mysteries and generally they involve an element of, I don't know, mystery? This is more like a Jesse Parker Action Book. Which only matters because I wanted to read a mystery. And I'm not blaming Flanagan for telling us "who-dun-it" in the beginning of the book and making us work our way out backwards... That's fine. In fact, it's a lovely technique when used well (see, e.g., The Secret History by [author: Donna Tartt or The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino). But this one just wasn't a mystery for the reader, and I feel like, to call a book a mystery, it should be a mystery for the reader. Not just for a handful of characters in the book.

So that was annoying. But then there's more.

Really annoying technique #2: Flanagan is obsessed with tall, blonde, athletic, shapely, outdoorsy girls. Like tall blond curvy athletic girl? An author's obsession with a female-type should not be SO obvious to the reader. For the love, please be a little more subtle.

Really annoying technique #3: Jesse Parker is clearly what Flanagan either wishes he were or hopes he is/was. You know, tall, kind, smart, just a little bit troubled so that every girl in the novel WANTS him and wants to fix him. brrp Sorry. just threw up in my mouth a little. And the thing is, ALL of these things are fine and even great when used well and/or with subtlety.

So, the plot. Jesse Parker, expert skier, has had some terrible skiing mishap in a prior "mystery," and can't ski "the wall" at this fancy little resort in Utah that he's trying to overcome. His a@@hole girlfriend back in Colorado (or whatever other snowy town he hails from) has no sympathy and treats him like he's personally offended her by not being able to ski the most expert trails. But don't worry, she's tall, blond, curvy, athletic, and outdoorsy, so this will all work out. eyeroll And his hot a@@hole girlfriend totally shames him on the slopes one day, so he sets out back to "The Wall" in Utah to overcome his phobia and be a man in his girlfriend's eyes once more.

And (and this is my favorite part), while he's there, he meets this OTHER tall, blond, curvy, athletic, outdoorsy chick who, of course, also wants him, but she's more sensitive to him. but also, she's hot. so he bangs her. But no, don't worry, he's not going to waste time feeling guilty about it because that would cheapen the experience with this new girl. I'm sorry, but ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Regardless, it seemed like Flanagan's way to just throw in some sex to keep the ol' boys interested in his tale.

But, and here comes the "Mystery", all of a sudden, there's a terrorist/hostage situation. So slutty girl, er, the new girl becomes an insider to Jesse, the secret insider-outsider, to the real outside world.  (yeah, it doesn't really matter)  And there's also FBI, and a newly minted president (the VP after the president kicked it), and political arguments, and thoughtless murder, and etc. etc. I mean. It's an action, no doubt. And the action element is actually not bad. It's interesting enough and kept the pages turning.

Without the crap, it could have been a 3 1/2 or maybe even a 4 star book. But the unsubtle, unskilled, lazy, cheap methods used by the author brought the book down to 2 stars.

So, all in all, of 5 stars.
Recommend to readers who like action adventures and for whom the above stuff wouldn't bother ;)

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