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Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Have you ever picked up a book from a favorite author, the newest in the favorite series, only to be disappointed by the story? This week’s review deals with exactly that. I have been a long-time Jack Higgins fan with his Sean Dillon series, so when I saw the latest output, Rain on the Dead, I immediately grabbed it. I have read the previous books in the Dillon series and I was excited for another chapter in the life of this protagonist.

Rain on the Dead starts out well enough. A group of terrorists attempt to assassinate former US President, Jake Cazalet. Lucky for him, Sean Dillon and his partner Sara Gideon save his life and save the day. Dillon and Gideon lead the investigation into the attempt which leads them to a Chechen and Irish conglomeration. Of course, Dillon being a former IRA member, knows the main players in the Irish connection.

Shortly after discovering this connection, the book goes off the rails. The narrative skips all around the world and from character to character with no clear connection to anything. It is a disjointed mess that keeps the reader scratching his or her head as to how they arrived at the conclusion.

Sean Dillon, one of my favorite protagonists, is a shadow of his former self. He makes guesses that are stretching believability and ends up correct. Every time. The various situations barely develop before Dillon has made a decision and is halfway to the next conflict before the original conflict has been resolved.

The relationships between the cast of characters seems contrived. The Irish working with the Chechen faction on one page hate Dillon and everything he stands for. On the next page, previous indiscretions are forgiven and they have formed a lasting peace that will carry them through the struggles faced during the narrative.

Some of the scenarios seem very far-fetched. Take, for example, the case of President Cazalet. The former leader of the United States not only has no Secret Service protections, but he also passes through the streets virtually unrecognized by the very people he led for several years. Also, to assume the Secret Service would ever allow a president to put himself into dangerous, life-threatening situations repeatedly would take a huge leap of faith.

This is likely one of the shortest reviews that I’ve written lately. I simply had an issue with the rambling plot and the one-dimensional characters. As a longtime fan, I’ve grown to admire Sean Dillon and Sara Gideon. This time, though, the effort seemed to be mailed in. I would have a hard time recommending this book to anyone. However, if you like the political thrillers like this book was meant to be, Higgins has a long bibliography of great novels for you to enjoy.

I have been a long-time fan of Jack Higgins and his various series. So, to say that I was disappointed in Rain on the Dead would be a grave understatement. I have spent many hours reading his prior works, enjoying the stories he has created. This time, the mojo was just not there. To be fair, Higgins is 86 years old. He has nothing left to prove. He is a master of the thriller genre. Here’s to hoping that he has one more book in him to redeem this lackluster effort.

+Craig Bacon always tries to find the good in the books he reads, just like Glinda found the good in Elphaba. Sometimes you just have to dig really deep. If you dig what he has to say, please follow him on Twitter at @hippieboy73.

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