Top critical review
on February 17, 2014
I have read the prior books in this series. Each was good. In fact, the second volume was better than the first. The characters were enjoyable and there were moments of insightful writing. Then there is Hostage. This is, sadly, a case where the author is too close to his subject matter to be objective. As a result, the writing is melodramatic, unbalanced and, astonishingly, the plot wobbles upon some pretty serious lapses of reality.
I found the manner in which the subject matter was treated to be sensationalistic. There was no balanced approach on the topic of AIDS whatsoever. The author failed miserably to present both sides of the issue. And, I believe I am being kind in saying he even tried to present both sides. He also presented quite graphic scenes concerning the bodily ravishes the disease presents. We are dealing here with a crime novel not a story of social justice. It would have been possible in the hands of a more skilled writer to broach both aspects. But, even at that, the crime aspect would be diminished as a result of the social issues and the social issues would not be well served by the crime aspect.
As for lapses of reality, the book is riddled with them. One example is the character of Elliot. He is a man whose brain has been effected by the disease. Because of this, he has flights of behavior that are very erratic. Yet, during the closing sequences of the novel, his erratic behavior is soft peddled to suit the needs of advancing the plot. Another lapse of reality is a graphic description of the Matthew character having severe pains such as a migraine even to the point of having his vision effected by blinding flashes of light. He takes a "handful" of pills and instantaneously his pain and the lights are gone in the snap of a finger. Again, this is done in order to advance the plot. There was no time to allow the pills to take effect.
I compare this novel to those sensationalistic novels written by Sax Rohmer with the "Yellow Peril", Dr. Fu Manchu. The melodrama in which these political issues are presented completely undermine any credibility there may be given to the points the author wishes to make. Well, this is not the early years of the Twentieth Century when Rohmer penned his novels. That style of melodramatic writing has been out of vogue for decades. Yet, in the middle nineteen-nineties, Zimmerman resurrects that style to present what I cannot help but believe are personal feelings about a personal subject to him. As a result, the momentum of the Todd Mills series is driven off the rails. To be honest, I am not sure I will read the other two books in the series. I am that disappointed with this book.
I would also like to point out that the insightful moments of writing I saw in the previous Todd Mills books are missing in this book. The poignancy of an individual dying should provoke the best an author can give. Yet, here it is wasted in melodrama and sensationalistic political cliches. The person who dies is reduced to being a body left behind that smells. I find this inexcusable.
I cannot recommend this novel on any level. It is just awful.