Friday, April 27, 2007

"Hostage" - Robert Crais

I'm a pretty solid Bruce Willis fan and will check out most movies with him (okay, I will not see "Perfect Stranger") and one night I stayed up and watched "Hostage". There's not all that much to it but it's an entertaining enough hour and a half.

Sometime later Otto Penzler strongly recommended the original book and wrote pretty emphatically that its author, Robert Crais, is one of the best hard boiled writers around. So, ever the ready fool, I took Penzler's advice and rushed out and found a copy in the increasingly disorganized stacks of books at the Barrett Book Trader.

Yeah, well, I know Penzler's one of the most knowledgable fellows around when it comes to the history of crime and mystery writing. I love his weekly column in the New York City Sun and would actually pay to own them in a bound collection someday. I don't, however, think I'll fork over money for another book he pushes quite so quickly anymore.

"Hostage" is pretty much, well, it is entirely nothing special. Grizzled hostage negotiator burns out and moves out of LA and becomes the chief of a small town police force. A group of young punks invade a house and unintentionally take a mob accountant and his kids hostage (work that title). When the mob gets wind they force our hero to devise a way to get their records out of the house without any one finding out.

The book reads like a slick Hollywood treatment from the start and reeks of high concept and no originality. There isn't a character or a situation that doesn't feel old and tired. The villains might as well be twirling long mustaches. Crais needed to find a way to hide the neon "I'M THE VILLAIN" signs hanging about their necks.

No, this is not a good book for even whiling away mass transit time or laundry time or any sort of time you have to waste on potboilers. There's plenty of good crappy thrillers out there (can you say Preston and Child?) to spend money on instead of "Hostage"

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