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The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen: A Novel Hardcover – January 10, 2012
Bill Clinton pens the introduction, and author Thomas Caplan writes with decisive, well-paced prose. Part spy thriller, part Hollywood dazzler, The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen is a satisfying and fun intrigue story. --Heather Dileepan
Top Customer Reviews
Caplan has a brilliantly original concept for his main character, a serviceable if less original plot (stop the sale of old Soviet nukes), and clearly did considerable research on the technical details required to make such a plot believable. His research into such details was much better than the average thriller. I'm no expert on military technologies or espionage, I am a civilian scientist, but I do have a pretty good idea what is and is not feasible within the current state of the art of computer and aerospace technology. At some point while reading the average techno-thriller or watching the average action movie, I become irritated by the number of details that betray the writer's limited grasp of what really is feasible. At no point in reading this novel did I exclaim to myself "but it could not work that way!" Caplan must have done an unusually thorough job of research for me to get through an entire novel without being annoyed by tech blunders.
Aside from the residual pacing issues, the other issue I have with this novel is the feeling I knew more than I should have known about what the bad guys were doing and not enough about the main characters as people. At many points we readers already knew stuff the good characters were still trying to find out, because we got to see the villains discussing their plans. It would have been better to let us readers learn these things only by watching the heroes discover them. And by removing most of the scenes where the bad guys discuss their plans, Caplan would have had room for more character development among those trying to catch the villains.
Overall, this book was a good read: I was up until about 1:30 AM last night finishing it. In my younger days staying up late to finish a book was common, but in middle age I usually put it aside until the next day! So keeping me up late shows a thriller is well above average.
It's the story of a nasty duo who are putting together a deal to broker three decommissioned Soviet nukes to the highest bidders. The high-concept twist is that POTUS conscripts a top Hollywood star to go undercover on the trail of the nukes, figuring only someone like Ty Hunter can gain access to the yacht of the mega-wealthy bad guy. Full disclosure: Ty Hunter is everything I hate in a protagonist. When the President and one of his advisors approaches Ty about going under cover, the conversation goes like this:
"Me? I'm an actor."
"Don't be disingenuous," Kenneth said. "You're much more than an actor, and you know it."
"When you were a mere second lieutenant, in the army and attached to Task Force 508," the President asked, "what were you then? You were a commando in an oiled-cotton sweater who possessed every martial arts skill known to man."
"Not every," Ty said.
"You spoke Mandarin and Arabic and Spanish with a fluency that made you indistinguishable from any native."
And so forth. OMG, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Ty Hunter, box-office superstar! I mean, I'm sorry, but is there anything remotely realistic about that character? Or interesting? And for a guy about whom it is repeatedly asserted he is looking for love, he sure seems to be prepared to hop into bed with any number of beautiful women. I absolutely detested the "romantic" sub-plot of this novel.
I really have nothing good to say. The novel dragged on interminably. The pacing was deadly. The plot vacillated between predictable and boring. The dialog was stilted and embarrassing. ("Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to kiss you." "Then please do. I'd like you to.") I never cared enough about a single one of the characters ultimately to care about what happened to them. (But tell us how you really feel, Susan.)
Look, it's not the worst book I've ever read. There's almost always something worse. But I honestly can't recommend this "thriller" on any level. And there's something even more unforgivable. In his acknowledgements page, Mr. Thomas alludes to this being the first Ty Hunter story. Please, no more, no more! I just can't face it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
(There may be spoilers)
A feminist would not approve of The Spy who Jumped off the Screen by Thomas Caplan.Read more
It was something I found a good escape from chores etc.