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Blood Pact: Seeing Red
on April 3, 2014
One of the techniques writers use is to just get that first draft down. Regurgitate the words, just let them splash on the page. Then once you've expelled everything, you can go back and clean up.
Blood Pact reads like the vomit version. Didn't he have an editor vet this? Someone who said, "Y'know, maybe having the plane engines spool down, the man have a soccer player's build, an Englishman's fair complexion and rich Oxford accent, say goodbye to the flight crew, pick up a single Louis Vuitton leather bag, go down the plane's stairs and then walk to a waiting Bentley coupe all in the same sentence, might not be the easiest way to tell a story.
The bad guys -- and there are plenty of them -- from the Vatican, their Knights of Malta assassins, Fidel Castro's illegitimate daugther(who?), the Voltaire Society(who've been dispatching their enemies since the 1850s), a Mexican cartel and an international Saudi oil coalition headed by a, gasp!, evil prince -- are written pretty much as blockheads or as conveniences to advance the plot. For example a wily spy sees another spy that he can't really identify in a car. So what does he do? He honks his horn. And what does the other spy do? Why she spins all the way around and looks out her rear window. Thus giving him a ideally framed photo op to not only capture her face but her license plate as well. D'oh. If you were on a stake-out, wouldn't you be hunkered down? And if you heard a horn behind you wouldn't you look in your side view or rear view mirrors? Instead of spinning all the way around and possibly being garrotted by your seat belt?
The bad guy, Dorestos is nearly seven feet tall and he moves so fast, we are reminded of it constantly. I counted six different times before I stopped -- "..in a blur..." "..his speed incredible.." "..superhuman speed..." We get it. Usain Bolt wuld finish a distant second to this guy. So when McGarvey takes him out, Dorestos dashes from the bathroom, trying to make it to the front door. He's fast, but ain't nobody outrunning a bullet. And Dorestos had a gun, why not have a shoot-out? Because, as Hagberg, explains, he wanted McGarvey to know that he(Dorestos) wasn't lying, so committed suicide by agent.
The plot is of such complexity that just about every time McGarvey or other characters meet, they explain it. And explain it. There's lots of gun "porn" -- telling the exact model weapon with silencer and ammunition and the size of each man's piece.
Thugs die. So do innocent people. Necks get snapped, so do arms and legs. And the verbal crashes are eyeball-jarring: "He was in a suit and tie, his hair white." (Does that mean he changes his hair color to match his outfit?).
The old story goes that a sculptor was asked how he cut such a massive and beautiful elephant from a solid block of granite. "I just cut away everything that wasn't elephant."
That's my feeling about Blood Pact. Only Hagberg stopped cutting away. And the elephant isn't in the room, it's in the book.