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Posted August 1, 2003
Can't write his way out of a Brown paper bag
I picked up this title a number of months back after being disappointed and disgusted with the phone-book sized diatribes that the novels of Tom Clancy have become. While Brown largely ignored the politics, he also ignored the element that makes good fiction (or even subpar fiction) readable: good characters. Within the first fifty pages it became apparent that Brown intended to tell a story of good Republicans flying good old American machinery against the evil Commies. While similar criticisms can be made of Clancy, I knew he was in trouble when the plane McLanahan flew in the bombing exercize that opens the book were better characters than the pilots themselves. At least, even now, as Jack Ryan has been reduced to a foul-mouthed platform for Clancy's conservative views Clancy still makes a decent attempt at keeping him interesting. Brown's McLanahan is the only character I remember by name, and even he is a character only in that Brown gave him a paint-by-cliche backstory. Brown failed to make me enjoy his characters, and therefore I could not care about them. Therefore, the action sequences (already bogged down by heavy-handed technical descriptions that make Clancy seem like Ernest Hemingway) failed to engage because I could not care about the characters in them. If this is the 'best' Brown can do, as the reviews seem to indicate, I think I'll skip over Dale Brown next time I am shopping for books.
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