which I strongly suspect has to be some sort of pseudonym...
Sucks. I bought the book "Red Tide" off the supermarket shelf because I'm a sucker: at the top of the cover, it said "MUST READING", -HARLAN COBEN.
So I bought the book on authorial reccomenadation. I've had some sucess with this, I have bought a few books on Stephen King's reccomendation, and haven't been let down. Despite the odd grammar of the above quote, Coben is one of my absolute favorite authors right now. He has some serious storyline issues to work out, but none the less writes some of the most enjoyable books out there. Coben has a sense for clever narration and an extremely rare talent with dialogue that, combined with his other talents, makes him a spectacular storyteller. (Let's see if that shows up on the cover of his next book. Seriously, though; he's one of the best out there right now).
So I bought this book by "G.M. Ford" based solely on Coben's endorsement as a "Must Reading".
And dear god, is it awful. I don't expect alot from my pop-fiction writers, but I do expect something. There is nothing of value to be found in this book.
The characters are completely flat. The author dosen't even bother to explain who most of them are. New facts about their lives are constantly popping up out of the blue. Who they are or what they are, appparently, isn't relevant to the story.
Which wouldn't be so bad, if the story wasn't so awful. Alot of Ford's personality shows through between his writing and the pic used of him on the back of the book. I don't want to make a judgement like this based on one book, but I'm going to anyway. Based strictly on the picture, I would guess that this is a wannabe-biker. Shaved head, tough-guy goatee, shoulder tatoo partially in the shot. But the photo says alot more: this is a guy that really, really wanted to be one of the hard-asses in school, but couldn't quite make it.
And his writing style reflects it. Imagine a guy that wasn't smart enough to be a true dork, so he spent all his time trying to fit in with the hardcase types, but never quite fitting in. Now imagine this guy wrote a book. This is that book: a fantasy of what the hardcases would like but fear and respect, from the perspective of a slightly more intelligent outcast.
Really, I think Mr. Ford would probably be a pretty good author if he stuck to smaller scale projects. Say, focus on one character, no more than five characters in all, and a simple yet interesting mystery. Instead, this book involves a dozen major players, the "protaganist" gets less page-time than the villian (the hero spends most of his time being dragged about by other characters with a silent, stony look on his face). The sheer number of people he tries to develop get lost in the soup, and most wind up simply serving the function of the God in the Machine. In fact, that seems to be the primary function of the hero: when everybody else gets stuck, he has the ingenous solution or obscure facts to resolve the problem, usually due to some unexplained quirk in his history. (And the Deus Ex Machina clanks along...)
And beyond the failure with a large number of characters, the massive, end-of-the-world scope of the book is remarkably unbelievable. Unlike in more thoroughly researched crime novels, the relationship between law enforcement agencies is plastic and stereotypical. The author's politics get in the way of both character development and storyline. It isn't story-driven, because the characters play a larger part than the story; but it isn't character-driven, because there isn't any worthwhile characters in the story.
Really, the book is author-driven; it is ego-driven. The only power behind the book is a fantasy for the author to be who he has tried hard to be. It may be a compelling fantasy for him to write, but it does not make for a worthwhile read.