The Copper Bracelet Audio CD
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Book reviewed 5 Feb 2010
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A lot of violence follows and a new villain, The Scorpion, emerges. The hitman's cell phone carries a message, a threat for an entire village. The copper bracelet worn by the hitman has intricate etching in Hindi or Sanskrit. It isn't much of a clue but it is all Middleton has. Middleton is on the hunt for someone he doesn't know, in Tampa or London, with this small clue.
Pierre Crane, an investigative reporter with Reuters, meets with the Scorpion, leading to Crane telling the story he discovered of three brilliant young men from impoverished backgrounds, a Pakistani, an Indian, and a Kashmiri, all born poor, who are subsidized through their British education from age ten, by an anonymous donor and who are then are funded in their businesses after they graduate from Cambridge. Two out of three of these men are now dead. One drowned in a flood, another poisoned by bad well water, while the third, the Kashmiri, Zakari sold his business and moved to the bush where he lived as a warlord and `would be saint.' All three men were Hindi. Zakari said their benefactor was holy, but `of this world.' He found a connection to the three men through Blue Watch services, in Dubai, an investigative company that serviced the very rich. Crane is intrigued by the Scorpion, believing the Scorpion was the mysterious benefactor. The Scorpion denies a role in the `experiment' and warns Crane about Middleton, a former military intelligence officer. Violence follows.
Violence almost always follows. Sometimes it's difficult to keep track of the violence and the violent. Good guys are bad guys, chaffeurs are the boss. Everybody shoots somebody at one point or another.
Like the first Middleton book, The Chopin Manuscript: A Serial Thriller [CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT], this is a very complicated story. I found myself backing up the first CD a number of times to make sure I understood the story. (Track 60 on Disk 1 begins the activities of Crane.) It could just be that I'm slow but I don't recommend trying to listen to the first CD in the car -- unless you don't mind being a menace on the road. This brings back the cast of characters, Middleton's ragtag army, into action again. While this presumably could be a stand alone novel, that would make it much more difficult to follow. It's hard enough when you know many of the characters.
The writers are: Jeffery Deaver, Gayle Lynds, David Hewson, Jim Fusilli, John Gilstrap, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline, David Corbett, Linda Barnes, Jenny Siler, David Liss, P.J. Parrish, Brett Battles, Lee Child, Jon Land, and James Phelan. This is a first rate line up again: lots of brilliant writers with lots of interesting styles!
The Copper Bracelet is another excellent thriller. I highly recommend it.
"The Copper Bracelet" is essentially a variation of a game of "gossip" where a story is whispered around a circle, and becomes corrupted at the end---except in this case, each person in the circle adds to the story, based on the story whispered to him or her. With each new chapter the new author (some 20 or so authors in total) ignores most of the plot threads put in motion by the preceding author, and instead introduces new characters, and new plot twists. As soon as you (the reader) think you have a vague idea of what is going on, the next author ricochets off in another direction. As soon as you begin to like a character, he or she is killed or is simply never heard from again.
The result is a horrible mess, with no continuity, no identifiable plot, and virtually no identifiable characters. Having just finished listening to the entire unabridged novel in one long session, I cannot name a single character. I think the bad guys were Moslem terrorist---but I have no idea what their goal was supposed to be.
THE PLOT: There is no plot, it metamorphoses like a cancer, but as of the last chapter the nominal implied plot is that there was a conspiracy to start a war between Pakistan and India, by killing a U.S. President when he/she visits a new dam in Kasmir(?), with the assumption that the U.S. will nuke Pakistan starting a world war. The Chinese (and others in an worldwide shadow government) are trying to stop the plot as well as an American private antiterrorist organization---composed of individuals who don't actually have a clue of what is going on. Ultimately, it is British commandos who save the day---with the complicity of the American government, Pakistani government, the Indian government, the Chinese, the Russians, etc. without any hints leaking out to the allegedly well connected and technically savey bad guys. Yeh, sure. Of course no-one informs the members of the private American antiterrorist organization (who are risking their lives and being killed by the score) that the "world government" has the whole thing under control.
ON THE GOOD SIDE: On the good side, there is lotsa action. In fact never ending action. So action junkies may enjoy the novel. Almost all of the individual chapters (taken in isolation) are very well written.
THE DEAVER METHOD: One thing to consider is that apparently this is the way Deaver writes novels himself---he begins with a good idea that he does a great job developing for half the novel, but the remainder degenerates into a stream of consciousness without an outline or even a faint idea of where to end the novels---which is why his novels are always great half-way or two thirds of the way though, and he invariably ruins them because he never knows when to stop.
THE VERDICT: An interesting "literary experiment" for anyone interested in such. However, judged by the same standards as a first novel by a single author, the novel is simply poor, and would be sent straight to the circular file by any competent editor.
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