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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 28, 2011
Trouble surrounds Matt Royal despite his residence in paradise. It seems that Florida's Longboat Key isn't paradisiacal for everyone. A young man is shot by a sniper while he's walking on the beach near the Hilton, just a day after his wedding. Then a dinner boat runs aground after nearly colliding with Royal's boat. Then the bodies of two more murder victims are discovered, both of whom had been passengers on the dinner boat. When a town resident is killed, it looks like a serial killer has invaded paradise. The killings aren't connected in any obvious way, leaving Royal's friend, Detective J.D. Duncan, without any obvious hope of solving the crimes. Then a former soldier from Royal's past shows up, the father of one of the victims, and Royal joins the search for the elusive killer. Every now and then another death occurs, leaving the reader, like Royal, to puzzle out the connection that links the murders.

Some aspects of the plot are hard to accept. Royal is a retired lawyer. The victim's father wants Royal to start a lawsuit -- against whom, he's not sure -- to help gather information against the murderer of his son. I found it difficult to believe that the police would willingly hand over their investigative file to him; giving open files concerning recent unsolved murders to private lawyers just isn't done. If you can suspend your disbelief in that regard, however, the story that follows is entertaining. It isn't particularly credible but that's standard for a thriller, and it's not much more difficult to believe than some newspaper stories.

The need to suspend disbelief isn't limited to the plot. One of the characters -- a waitress -- is the typical part-time computer hacker; a couple of community college computer courses and she can hack into airline and bank records, not to mention databases maintained by rental car, credit card, and telephone companies. Another character works for a double secret American intelligence agency. Royal's convenient friendships with people who can instantly access any information he needs is good for plot development but not so good for verisimilitude.

The investigation sends Royal down several blind alleys, all in a reasonably effective attempt to keep the reader guessing. An interesting plot twist occurs when Royal begins to wonder whether he can trust the quasi-romantic interest in his life. The solution to the complex puzzle -- the link that binds the murders -- is interesting although I had the feeling I was reading plotlines recycled from other thrillers and mashed together in an attempt to create something new.

Although Royal engages in the occasional episode of hand-to-hand combat, he has a more fully developed personality than the standard tough guy character. Someone during the course of the novel accuses Royal of being a philosopher. He's no Aristotle, but he's capable of subtle thought, a trait often lacking in fictional tough guys. All the characters -- even the minor ones -- are refreshingly intelligent.

H. Terrell Griffin writes vividly, if not originally, about Royal's service as a Green Beret in Vietnam. His writing style in general is fluid, tight, and cliché-free. He blends action and exposition effectively, although the story is a bit exposition-heavy toward the end.

Collateral Damage is the sixth Matt Royal novel but the first I've read. It likely won't be the last.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2012
Matt Royal attracts trouble. No matter what he is doing, the retired lawyer always seems to find himself in intriguing and life-threatening situations. In Collateral Damage, the latest installment in author H. Terrell Griffins series, Matt Royal, once again, finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation and a conspiracy that could date all the way back the Vietnam War.

Longboat Key, Florida is a quiet coastal town that sees little excitement outside of the tourist season. When a young groom is shot while running along the beach, the town is shaken. That same evening, while fishing with his good friend Logan, Matt witnesses strange events on a dinner cruise boat, sailing by them, that leads to two other deaths. When he receives an unexpected contact from an old war buddy, whose son happened to be the young murdered groom, Matt promises to help investigates the murder, and searches for a connection between the shooting and the mysterious murders aboard the cruise.

As in the previous novel, the supporting characters help to keep the plot moving. Matt's best friend, Jock Algren, works for a secretive government agency that gives him practically unlimited resources to assist in the investigation. This James Bond like character, while highly unbelievable, works well within the world of the novel, and allows for an easy way for Matt to have some credibility as an investigator. The love interest, Longboat P.D. Detective J.D. Duncan, is written with a subtle touch, allowing the budding relationship to simmer throughout the novel, without falling into the stereotypes of most thriller love elements.

Griffin's love for the place and people of Florida permeates the novel, providing the fictional world with some much-needed reality. While the plot becomes a bit hard to follow at times, the story resolved nicely. This novel is a fun, escapist type read, that is sure to provide fans of mystery thriller novels with a great time.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2013
Everything in the novel (the plot, characters, setting) is bogged down by simplistic sentences: "I'd left Jock....He was working....He was calling....I drove back....I typed my notes....." Leaves much to be desired in expression complexity which is needed to create rich characters, realistic action, and well-drawn plot lines. Repetitiveness is also an issue. How many times does it need to be pointed out that Floridians don't move too much outside in the summer and the tourists come in the winter? Didn't even get halfway through it before deciding I could get more intellectual stimulation from watching birds.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2014
Collateral Damage was a great read. It was my first H. Terrell Griffin book and was a good purchase. I just ordered a second book in the Matt Royal Mystery series yesterday and looking forward to reading it as well.

I have always enjoyed an intriguing mystery/thriller with a bit of detective and attorney story lines weaving throughout, and this novel did not disappoint. The characters were well created and the story kept me guessing to the end. It also moves around the Southeast with excellent descriptions of the cities, history, and sights. I actually learned quite a bit about the South Florida area and the Bahamas. Terrific writing!

There is a little typo at the end of chapter sixty six. At one point Jock is called Jack. It actually made me back up a few pages to see if I missed a character. Might want to correct this. :o)

I would highly recommend this book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2011
Matt does it again. Another episode in the tales of Matt Royal and his buddies. Lots of action and intrigue. This one will keep you guessing until the end.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2014
I call it "sky hooking" when an author conveniently finds information needed for his plot coming out of nowhere. This author uses characters. Every time Matt Royal runs into a problem a new character is introduced to solve it. The result is very disappointing to the reader who is trying to find some continuity, My first (and last) Matt Royal "mystery" since there isn't any.... only characters from nowhere showing up at the right moment to fill in the holes in the plot.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2014
The concept was interesting. Carrying it out ended up confusing and muddled. There was all this flying around, in private planes, a main character who answers "only to the Prez", going here and there to eat and drink, drink, drink. Lost track of plotline with all the different characters.

Only redeeming factor is descriptions of where he lived and the great love he had of sunsets.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2013
This book uses poor dialogue to tell its story. I'd rather discover the plot as it progresses than have it explained to me in simple dialogue.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2013
How many times can the author tell us in the book that it's hot and humid in Florida in the summer. How many times does he have to mention that Matt Royal likes to drink coffee? It's like he's inserting filler content like this because he can't insert better content. Certainly no Lee Childs or Michael Connelley.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2013
Once you read one of the series you are going to want to read them all to see what kind of trouble Matt Royal finds himself involved in again. The Key's seems to brim with good friends, unlawful invaders and romance. Romance is not the main thrust of the story, which is a good thing since that can get old in a hurry, but it does add just a touch of realism to the lives of those involved.
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