Blown Away, by GM Ford

Frank Corso is an author who's wildly successful and wealthy, told by his publisher to visit a small town and find out about a crime that happened there with a view to writing a novel about it. The crime in question happened a year or so back, and involved a guy with a bomb chained to his neck walking into a bank and asking for money. Leaving the bank, he's surrounded by police, and while waiting for the bomb squad to turn up, the bomb is detonated by remote control.

Frank soon realises that something is amiss in the town: the "official" line is that the bank robber was party to the bomb plot, but Frank is convinced that he was just a stooge. As he investigates more, he starts meeting with opposition in the form of masked men who try and abduct him, and mysterious cars that force him off the road into an icy lake.

I saw this in the library and did a quick check on Amazon, finding a couple of five-star reviews at the top of the list. But I should have looked further and noticed that there were a lot of reviews which were less favourable.

The book wasn't anything great: writing was cliched ("deafening silence" etc.) , and plot, while it had the makings of something interesting, didn't really get used properly. Soon after his incident in the icy lake (after which Frank seemed just to leave the hospital and carry on as if nothing had happened), Frank and a woman sidekick (I can't remember how she entered the story) get asked by the FBI to help in their investigation into a series of bomber-in-the-bank heists. And then for most of the rest of the book they're just tagging along, making helpful suggestions which move the investigation on.

Then after the FBI complete their investigation, Frank goes back to the town, seems to find something else out, and then....

Well at that stage, the CD I was listening to started skipping. There's a big bit of muck on it, and no matter what I did I couldn't get it to play, so I had to miss about 5 minutes. When the CD started again, it's talking about some kid and his father who seem to have no relation to anything that's happened (I wondered actually if the CD had been mis-pressed). Then it's into the final chapter, where we get Frank walking into a bank with a bomb chained to his neck...the end. Eh? I think this is just meant to be a SURPRISE TWIST! But it's pretty lame - even though I missed a few minutes due to CD scratching, there's no way that all the loose ends could have been tied up.

Looking on Amazon, there are plenty of people complaining about the ending, so it's not just me, and I don't think it's the fault of the dodgy CD that I couldn't work out what was going on.

The audiobook was also let down by the reader (Jeff Harding) who (for this book anyway) has a voice which I think could be described as wryly bored or sardonic: he made it sound like he (and all the people in the book) found the whole business a bit beneath them, and that they'd much rather be doing something more exciting that working out why bank-robbers are being blown up.

So a pretty disappointing book, and a very weak ending. Won't read any more by this bloke.

Completed : 24-May-2011 (audiobook)

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