Friday, January 21, 2011

Book #3: "Dead of Night" by Randy Wayne White

This book. Ugh.

This was one of those books I picked up at our house in Honduras, for no other reason than I had nothing else to read. I didn't really want to read it, based on the cover alone: a dark, stormy background, shiny bright letters, a scorpion in the corner. It just screamed "STAY AWAY".

I should have listened to my first instincts. Because this was a stinky, putrid mess of a book that I only remember because of how much I wanted to throw it at the wall.

Apparently, this was part of a series of books about the adventures of Doc Ford (*groan*) a former NSA Agent who is now a Marine Biologist in Florida. This was never explained; not in the blurb at the back or in the book itself. Now, it might be entirely my fault for not realizing that this was part of a series, but I would at least expect an author to give you a brief explanation of who this guy is, even if it's a one-paragraph bit of exposition. As it was, I was just honestly confused as to why this nerdy, unlikable character would run after some Evil Russian Minions after he finds them torturing some guy. It was still never explained properly-- there were only hints at some 'dark past' and 'mysterious operations' and random characters popping up that I suppose have some significance to the story. At least make an effort for readers who may not know the whole story. Am I asking for too much here? It doesn't really matter, though. I don't think there's any way I could have even begun to care about this obnoxious character, so a dossier of his life might only have made him more annoying.

As to the story itself, it was pretty pathetic. Some Evil Doctor is planning Evil Deeds from his Evil Lair in the Bahamas. His Evil Plan consists of releasing flesh-eating parasites into the waters of Florida (specifically the area around Disney World), with the purpose of driving everyone out so he can come in and buy cheap real estate. Then he would get rid of the parasites, and he could sell the land at great profit. Seems to me like a pretty round-about way of making some money. Specially when this Evil Doctor is so incompetent as to not even have a cure for the parasites when he first starts in on the plan. He sends some minions (Russian, of course) to torture some poor scientist, and Doc Ford catches them at it--they're not very good Minions. Then he's brought in on all the intrigue of some guy importing dangerous animals into Disney World. Or something.

All that is really just a stupid, incompetently drawn background. None of it makes any sense, and you get the feeling that White just wanted to show off how cool he thinks Doc Ford is. We spend much of the book following Doc Ford (that name just keeps making me cringe) on his stupid Harriet the Spy adventures in Florida. Watch as he tries to poorly investigate a murder, with his collection of stupid, badly drawn characters that we're supposed to find charming! Watch as he studies some things in his lab for 30 pages! Watch as he is Condescending and Bitchy to everyone he knows! He just wants to go surfing, man! Watch as we learn about sharks, which have nothing to do with this plot! Watch as he has relationship problems with someone off-screen! And finally, Read all about White's Research on Icky Animals! He can do research!

In short, it was an utter, painful bore.

The biggest problem, though, isn't the stupid plot or the lack of anything remotely exciting to read: it's the characters. Doc Ford is a condescending, unlikable ass of a person, and I kept waiting for the Evil (and Sexy) Russian Spy to kick his ass. He spouts bad one-liners from the book of bad James Bond Wannabes and he spends a lot of time hating all the work he has to do. The Evil and Sexy Russian Spy is nothing but that. She's sexy and she's evil. Apparently she has some ulterior motives that are never properly explained--at the end of it I didn't even know (or care) whose side she had been on. Doc Ford has some friends that don't really matter, including a stupid hippie and a Sassy Black Lady who is always off-screen, probably because she's too interesting to hang out with this dullard. He has a son who goes by the incredibly stupid name of Laken (who lives in "Central America" because everyone knows that place is just one giant country) and a pregnant fiance by the even stupider name of Dewey. It's like a collection of horrendous names and annoying characters. I didn't care about a single one of them. I kept wondering if I would have cared had I read the other books, but I didn't want to read the other books, and nothing could compel me to do so now.

And that was just the biggest problem in that soup of horribleness. The writing was terribly clunky, the pacing was all off-key and the sad attempts at action and suspense were just plain boring. There's plenty of deaths and gruesome details; but they're really worth nothing when everything else is a confusing mess of events happening off-screen while Doc Ford goes to a bar with his stupid hippie friend.

It's not worth it, really, getting so annoyed at this book. It was forgettable and trashy, the kind of thing that people buy at airports and then just "happen" to leave in a hotel room to rot until it can torture someone else. It's Michael Crichton For Dummies. You could do worse, I guess. But as for me, I'm just going to stay the hell away from Mr White and Doc Ford forever.

PS: As for the title? Bullshit! Nothing ever happens at night in this book. Stop trying to sound mysterious, sir.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't disagree more.! what interests me is why you are so bothered by it