Saturday, 26 January 2008

Shock and Awe indeed!



I’ve mentioned here before that I break out in thriller-reading occasionally, depending on mood, and, over the years, I have become quite a connoisseur (should that be connoisseuse as I am female? I’ve always wondered…) of fast-paced, action-filled fiction. I’ve devoured my share of rough-hewn heroes doing their thing indefatigably and without a shred either of self-doubt or real fear as to the consequences of their actions to themselves or others.
A recent discovery, David Baldacci, writes heroes far more thoughtful than the average – people whose existence you actually believe in – but now we have a new contender for the Thinking Woman’s Thriller Writer – Macmillan New Writing’s very own David Isaak.
Legends ‘fine and rare books’ sellers in America have already dubbed David’s book Shock and Awe ‘one to watch’ and I agree with them. Not only about the book but about David’s writing in general.
Why?
OK, here are the reasons.

He writes with a light, deft touch which never drowns you in detail but tells you enough.
His prose is fluent and literate.
There wasn’t a single word in Shock and Awe I wanted to substitute for another – a rare thing, believe me!
He credits the reader with paying attention and doesn’t plant big fat explanatory paragraphs when things happen after earlier signposting. ‘D’you remember what…’ and ‘I told you..’ are delightfully absent.
His characters can be amusing, sometimes laugh-out-loud so.
Said characters are real human beings, not superheroes or cardboard cut-outs. Even when they are unusually fit, strong or capable, they always retain the ability to be badly – even fatally - hurt and they are never less than psychologically real.
His main ‘hero’ characters indulge in self-doubt, soul-searching, retributive acts and occasional despair.
Characters never seem to be at the mercy of, or act at the behest of, plot.
He writes both male and female heroes (I assume this is the generic plural?) and he writes women believably.
Carla Smukowski – one of the aforementioned heroes - does not think heels are the footwear women were born to wear, is exhausted and irritated by clothes shopping and finds bras ludicrously uncomfortable; just the kind of antidote to female stereotypes that action-fiction needs.
His characters can be both clever and ruthless – there is never a sniff of the archetypal evil genius or preternaturally morally-certain good guy.

So, I hear you cry, was there nothing wrong with Shock and Awe?

Well, I’m sure that one could find minor flaws to carp about but nothing that sat in the opposite pan of the scales in the kind of quantities that could begin to rival the good points above. So I shall leave it at that and agree with Legends Books – David Isaak is definitely ‘one to watch’.

6 comments:

KAREN CLARKE said...

Another one to add to my growing pile, by the sound of things :)

Tim Stretton said...

I quite agree with you, Alis.

Thrillers are invariably unambitious so it's a refreshing change to find one which, while perfectly at home in its genre, nonetheless aims higher.

Akasha Savage said...

Have you read Lost dog by Bill Cameron yet? If not, you should.
:)

David Isaak said...

Thank you, Alis!

I'm speechless--a state many have devoutly desired for me!

Alis said...

Hi Akasha - no, I've still to get round to that.

Hi David - you're extremely welcome!

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