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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Writer's Life 1/25 - Dead Even

The floating book shop had been carrying Brad Meltzer's Dead Even for at least a year, and it attracted no attention. Wondering why, I read it. Published in 1998, it was the second of Metzler's 11 novels, all NY Times best sellers. As a graduate of Columbia Law School, he must know a lot about the Manhattan court system, although I'm not sure he ever practiced law. His first novel was published while he was a student, so literary success must have spurred a change in career path. I don't know if husband and wife lawyers are allowed to square off against each other in real life. It sounds like a bad idea and Dead Even proves it at length, although that isn't the point of this thriller. I enjoyed the story despite being skeptical about the situation. The mystery was interesting and it was fun trying to figure out if the mole was who it seemed or someone else. The action is grounded until the climactic scene in a subway station, and even that isn't as far-fetched as a lot of what is seen in film and on TV these days. The prose and dialogue are solid, smooth but over-written. I'd bet Meltzer has become sharper over time. My favorite line from the novel occurs during a murder, as the killer observes the dying, "...sitting at the kitchen table, watching the event as if it were dinner theater." So why have people been passing on this book? I have no idea. Dead Even is on a par with most of the mysteries I've sampled. The 341 pages of the hardcover edition read more like 300. 235 users at Amazon have rated it, forging to a consensus of 3.5 of five, a little high in my estimation. Bear in mind that I'm not a big fan of the genre. Meltzer is in the midst of an impressive run. He has written for comics such as The Justice League of America, The Green Arrow and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and worked in TV. He created the fictional Jack and Bobby, which was about the Kennedys and ran for a year, and two documentary style series, Decoded and Lost History. He has also written ten children's books and three works of non-fiction. Dead Even will return to the floating book shop's inventory as soon as I sell off a bunch of the hardcovers I recently received. Now I can recommend it to those who enjoy lawyer-based thrillers.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Trump presidency so far is the retention of James Comey as head of the FBI. I was sure he was another casualty of Clinton corruption. I wonder if there is an ulterior motive behind it, such as the possible prosecution of Hillary. As much as I despise her, I'd rather the country not have to go through that. I suppose Comey's presence may simply be a warning to keep the Clintons in line. Who knows? Before the campaign, Comey was regarded as a straight arrow who would always do right. His reputation has suffered considerably... It was great to see the president sign an order to get the Keystone Pipeline built. If only it were that easy. Expect vigorous opposition, potential lawsuits.

It was a beautiful day despite the stiff wind. My thanks to the middle age woman who bought a cook book, which raised me a bit above dead even, and to the owner of the local print shop, who donated a large pictorial on cross-stitching. In the digital age, it is surprising that traditional print shops still exist.
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