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The Prince of Deadly Weapons: A Novel Hardcover – November 1, 2002
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Taking his title from author Owen Wister's description of the eye of man as "the prince of deadly weapons," Boston Teran spins out a forceful yet surprisingly unsatisfying yarn in which what you see is almost never what you get.
While still wracked with guilt over the supposed suicide of his only son, Taylor, wealthy Sacramento Delta developer Nathan Greene meets Dane Rudd, a young man who'd lost his vision in a subway attack years ago and only regained it through the posthumous transplanting of Taylor's corneas. Nathan is now putting together a research center in his son's name, and he needs Rudd as his guileless pitchman, "the miracle of modern science he'll troop out to fund-raisers." But the enigmatic Rudd has his own agenda, which could lay Nathan--as well as an avaricious banker; a randy, paraplegic district attorney with political ambitions; and a pair of brutish sibling pilots--open to charges in a conspiracy that involves money laundering, missing diamonds, and murder.
Although the pseudonymous Teran gets off a clever line here and there (he describes a comely woman as having "legs that went all the way from the ground up and into a man's psyche"), the prose in The Prince of Deadly Weapons is a flabby version of what drew readers to his previous works, God Is a Bullet and Never Count Out the Dead. Equally discouraging, this story's characters never rise above the one-dimensionality of concept, and its plot twists are less accomplished than they are confounding. Despite some fast-pitch episodes of cinematic drama (Rudd's last-minute escape from an onrushing train, exploding boats in the denouement), The Prince of Deadly Weapons lacks the lethal edge that fans have come to expect from this author. --J. Kingston Pierce
From Publishers Weekly
After soaring high with his first two thrillers, God Is a Bullet and Never Count Out the Dead, Teran crashes and burns with his third, an archly overwritten and confusing book, which also wastes a promising, relatively fresh locale California's Sacramento Delta. The first problem is the writing: although there are a few early flashes of the originality that made Teran's first two novels so exciting, these very quickly degrade into sloppy poetry: "Nathan was hungry for some ultimate legacy, something that would carry past the wakes of his life. But he also knew there is, in each of us, a place where resides an eternal antagonist who remains untouched by any virtue." Then there are the characters, a grotesque gallery of genre clichs with few humanizing touches. For reasons never made entirely clear, the hero a young man who calls himself Dane Rudd is claimed as a lost son by several people, including an ex-con pilot who decorates the walls of the bar he runs with sketches from the Greek myth of the Minotaur in the labyrinth (perhaps a plug for the publisher?). But most damaging is the plot, a serpentine and finally unconvincing exercise, which has Rudd supposedly blinded early on in a subway attack, but even this is left in doubt at the end investigating the death of the man whose corneas he inherited by infiltrating a gang of smugglers and killers whose nastiness is exceeded only by their ineptitude. All this adds up to a misfire from which the reclusive, supposedly pseudonymous author will hopefully recover.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Unlike the parched and barren southern California wasteland in which Teran set his first two blockbuster mystery-thrillers ("God is a Bullet" and Never Count Out the Dead"), "Deadly Weapons" is set in the more-lush, but none-the-less barren, California Sacramento River delta. The delta is an overlooked region of the west, full of contradictions and extremes - a land virtually lost in time within the shadow of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Teran is true to his literary accolades in painting a vivid picture of the people and geography of the delta. But unlike the his first two efforts, in which the brutality of the characters, deeds, and settings literally grab the reader by the throat refusing to let go, "Deadly Weapons" tends to meander into too much a somber study of lost lives and missed opportunities. One can't help feeling that Teran tried to hard to make this novel "important", and in the process blunted the edge of what should have been another creative, dark, and compelling tale.
All things considered, though, this is a book worth reading. Teran still demonstrates a unique literary talent, spinning the most simple phase or event in an engaging cross between prose and poetry. Despite its shortcomings, Boston Teran can write, and I'll look forward to his next installment.
After reading Boston Teran's work, I'd lay odds that he keeps a pied-a-terre in that very same neighborhood, a place he can drop in on when life gets too cheery. Fans of noir fiction should take no small amount of pleasure in the knowledge that Teran has found a room with such a deliciously disturbing view.
Boston Teran's latest, THE PRINCE OF DEADLY WEAPONS, delivers the award-winning author's trademark cast of finely drawn, deeply flawed characters, murky morality, and flat-out nasty violence, all presented at a carefully metered pace that maintains just the right anxious buzz from first page to last.
THE PRINCE OF DEADLY WEAPONS is at its core an exploration of deception, served up in a cornucopia of flavors, each with its own particular motivation, and each with its own unique toll. Whether the motivation is greed, lust, love, truth, or redemption, there is a price to be paid, and there's no running out on the bill.
In the story, a federal agent is brutally murdered in a cheap roadside motel while waiting for a meeting with Taylor Greene, the son of Nathan, a wealthy California businessman whose extracurricular activities have drawn the attention of the Feds. Days later, Taylor dies in an apparent suicide. On the eve of a memorial service for Taylor, Dane Rudd arrives, a mysterious and charismatic young man with a remarkable story: corneal transplants have restored eyesight lost in a viscous random assault. The organ donor is none other than Taylor Greene, a fact that binds Dane to the people in Taylor's troubled life, and to their ambitions. Dane soon finds himself up to his neck in dirty dealings and familial dysfunction, compelled to learn the truth behind Taylor's death by vision that is restored by far more than a surgical procedure.
Boston Teran has a special knack for the down-and-dirty, fueled apparently by his real life. In notes on his website, he describes the inspiration for various elements of the three books he has published to date, much of it drawn from a childhood of the sort that in different hands would find its expression in fifty minute installments on a therapist's couch.
But if life has indeed dealt Boston Teran a lousy hand, he has played it masterfully, and split the pot with his lucky readers. His characters are possessed of the kind of street-level realism that is the hallmark of well-written crime fiction, and his story lines tangle and weave the various personalities in juxtapositions that drive the narrative on a combustible mixture of foreboding, dread, and inevitability. THE PRINCE OF DEADLY WEAPONS, like Boston Teran's previous work, is a twisted pleasure to read. When you can put it down, you're happy to shut all that nasty business between the covers.
--- Reviewed by Bob Rhubart
Dane Rudd, the recipient of Taylor's corneas comes to Rio Vista, California ostensibly to thank Taylor's parents for giving him the gift of sight. In reality Dane has infiltrated Taylor's intimate circle in the hopes of finding out what Taylor was going to tell the dead agent. He has the help of Essie, the woman Taylor loved and ultimately died for, but the investigation he started to stay out of jail becomes a chance for redemption for Dane because until he came to Rio Vista he was no better than the Greenes were.
Boston Teran has a lyrical and literary style of writing so readers feel that they are reading a poetic ballad. Although Taylor only has one scene in the book, he makes an impact on every character through their actions and reaction to his death. The author has captured the essence of evil and imbued several of his characters with it, making them monsters as malignant as Hannibal Lechter ever was. This is a very powerful novel that impacts the reader strongly on the emotional level.