Saturday, 6 April 2013

Modern Suburbia by Chris Merlo

This book is a fictional commentary on the shady underdoings of a modern, built up, suburban town somewhere in America.

The storyline itself is rather intriguing, with the author trying to show us that he can create a plausible crime/suspense novel based mainly in a town that, from the outside, seems quiet and normal. Obviously, that's not going to hold true though, as otherwise there wouldn't really be much of a story to write about.

Nathan is a hired transporter of not completely legal goods whom we first meet as he's being pulled over by a traffic officer for speeding. From there it just gets worse for Nathan and the people he's transporting for as he's dragged to jail and and fails to make the meet-up time.

As we are introduced to crooked fat cats, international terrorists and amazingly talented computer hackers you begin to see that no town is truly peaceful as Teal County's dirty little secrets are dragged into the light.

I thought the idea and storyline behind this novel were well thought out and rather intriguing. Unfortunately what could've been a good novel was let down into a mediocre one by the way it all came across. The style of setting the plot out to the reader seemed a bit too hurried to me and I felt I was being force fed too much description where it wasn't needed and not enough where I thought it was. It was as if Merlo was attempting to show he could be mysterious and lead the reader on but at the same time not lose your attention but it wasn't gone about in a way that was entirely plausible.

I almost feel that the author has some sort of vendetta against all law enforcement as there wasn't a single member of the force or jail system that wasn't a brute with a love for dishing out violence. Maybe I live a life too much on the right side of the law or in the wrong country to see that every police officer and jail guard has it out for lawbreakers and will find any excuse to beat them to a bloody pulp. It would be fine if it were just the odd one or two but making it the entire lot just made it too unbelievable for me.

The characters themselves are an interesting bunch, policemen notwithstanding, as they seem to show villainy in all walks of life, from the druggie girl (who, of course, comes from a broken home and is used to using her good looks) to the main character Nathan, who takes it upon himself to right a few wrongs in his own way and the big fat cat with his nice little cover of some corporate (large in a plush office) desk jockey. Mix in the FBI and the German Terrorist (sorry ladies, not Alan Rickman style) and it will lead to some explosive action and even a well written car chase.

This was an okay read that I was wishing would be good. I loved the idea and some of the scenes were brilliant. Unfortunately there were other moments where you'd have a scene interrupted for the next two paragraphs with a new character's life story (even in a sex scene?!) and it was not assumed that the reader could make their own conclusions but instead I felt as if I was being force fed exactly what I should think about a person. I do think there is such a thing as too much information if it keeps being beaten into you to hate a person or that someone is really rich (to describe every scene down to the last plush fibre of a carpet everytime said fat cat is in a room is a bit much, I get the hint).

The plot twists are well planned out, however. These do not suffer from information overload but are slowly eked out to keep you wondering and reading. To be honest I loved the book for its potential and would read a Chris Merlo novel again in the hope that these first time book issues have been ironed out as it's definitely worth keeping an eye on this Chris Merlo fellow.

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