Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Have you ever read a book and didn't like the main character? That's the problem I'm having with The King of Lies by John Hart. Jackson Workman Pickens, known as "Work," is a lawyer who makes idiotic choices. He drinks to oblivion and then acts, he cheats on his wife, and he's spineless.

As an adult, he didn't stand up to his bastard of a father to help protect his sister and their mother. One night the father backhands the mother, knocking her down a flight of stairs, killing her in the process. The father disappears the same night and turns up murdered eighteen months later.

What does Work do? Well, he didn't man up when needed. Not that I blame him for his father's actions. His despicable father clearly killed the mother, whether "accidentally" or not. But Work could have stood up to his father and done something to help protect his emotionally battered sister and mother, and he didn't. Then the father extracts Work's co-operation:
"It was an accident, boy. You see that, don't you, son?"
I looked into his eyes, saw for the first time that he needed me, and felt myself nod; it was an irrevocable step." 
Good boy," he said. 
Then the ground fell away and I tumbled into the deep well of self-loathing. 
I have yet to find its bottom.
When the father's body was discovered with two bullets in his head, leaving a $40 million estate, the police naturally want to speak with all concerned. So what does Work, the lawyer, do? He once again drinks to oblivion, uses his long-suffering girlfriend for comfort, and misses one appointment after another with Detective Mills. When Work finally meets with Det. Mills, he lies.

I get the impression John Hart wants me to sympathize with Work, but I don't. I can't, because the character, as written, is an idiot. In fact, I find Hart's ploy insulting.

And while I'm at it, I've got one more criticism, and it's a biggie. The sex scenes are not only gratuitous, they're horrible. To be fair, most writers simply cannot write sex scenes. Hart obviously relishes writing about sex. One scene involves the rape of a teenage girl. Hart went into unnecessary details, larding the passage with far too much description, so much so that I skipped over half of it. I could almost picture Hart salivating over his keyboard. So far, the only writer who has a talent for writing about sex (in my opinion) is Janet Evanovich in her Stephanie Plum books. The scenes are pithy and fit the narrative, and they leave enough to the imagination to tingle my expectations without delving into syrupy, sloppy passages. (I've read the first ten books, or so, in the series.)

If the story was a dud, I would have ditched "The King of Lies" long before now. I'm about a third of the way into the book, and the story is finally picking up. I want to find out what happens. It's a shame that Work is such a spineless, unlikable character. So far, the only character I do like is Det. Mills.

"A STRIKING NEW TALENT"?  Yes, I'd agree John Hart does have talent.

"READS LIKE A BOOK ON FIRE"?  Not quite. The sloppy sections extinguish any flames.



In other news...

Man wears ‘crack jacket’ to court:  A man accused of drug trafficking showed up for court Friday in Fort Lauderdale sporting a jacket that bore a cartoon-style recipe for cooking crack cocaine.

Greece Bank Run Shows No Sign Of Stopping: Deposit OutflowsContinue In November: The year is not over yet, and already Greece's banks have lost €36.7 billion of their deposit base in 2011, and a whopping €64.6 billion since the beginning of 2010, which is down from €233 billion to €173 billion in under two years.


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