on 16 August 2007
This is my third Abbott novel, but probably my last , as his writing has become just too formulaic.
A young film-maker gets a desperate call from his mother and arrives at her place shortly after to find her murdered. From there he discovers that his parents were not the simple people he had assumed them to be. Enter the CIA, rogue agents and desperate attempts to make sure important documents do not become public.
This is one long and fast chase, but not much more. Just when you think you can almost live with elements of the plot, up pops something else which is just so improbable that it has you sighing. Then more bullets and chases and finally the inevitable showdown involving our now superhuman film-maker.
If you're an action-seeker, this book delivers it; if you need to see some sense of reality, however, you should probably steer clear of this book. 7/10
on 6 August 2012
I have not read any Jeff Abbott books before I picked up `Panic'. On the cover there were very positive reviews by some of my favourite thriller writers - Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly. Taken in by the marketing spiel, I bought the book.
Sadly, I have been very disappointed. Maybe Child, Coben and Connelly were pushed by some publisher trade-off deal to hype this book, but I can't believe that they actually believed the reviews that they supposedly wrote.
If you read the original Robert Ludlum books (not the factory churned out imitations in his name) you will be familiar with the conspiracy thriller genre. Lots of different spy agencies chasing each other, agencies within agencies, traitors and/or double agents in each, who-can-you-trust, your great granny is actually a ninja-assassin etc., etc... Ludlum managed, in general, to carry it off.
Well, `Panic' is seeded in this genre, but fails miserably to walk in Ludlum's footsteps. Abbott has taken the genre to ridiculous lengths. It is just so unbelievable and unconvincing that it becomes almost comical - not the point of a thriller. Characters - unconvincing. Plot - unconvincing. Pace - frantic to the point of absurdity.
It starts quite well, but after 50 pages rapidly deteriorates into comic book. I battled on to the end but it wasn't really worth it.
My recommendation is if you enjoy well-crafted thrillers don't bother with this one.
on 23 March 2007
When young film-maker Ewan Casher gets a distress call from his mother, he rushes to the family home to find that she is dead, his father is missing and he himself the target of some shady characters. Unknowingly duped into a relationship with one of the people after him, he finds himself unwittingly caught between two top American spy agencies as they stalk him for some information they believe his mother forwarded to him. On his tail is the elusive Jargo, a rogue agent who sells information to the highest bidder, sometimes stealing the information back from another buyer. As Ewan discovers a huge secret about his parents, and himself, whilst searching for his father, he finds himself in more and more danger, and has to call on a few favours from unexpected sources to help him get from a to b without being captured.
Jeff Abbots Panic starts off as a thrilling fast paced read. It throws you straight into the action whilst developing its main character as a likeable sort, vulnerable yet approachable. But as Ewan is thrown from one disaster to the next, and from one villain to the next, it starts to lose your interest. There are various twists to the tale, some believable, some not so much. Its well written and for the most part enthralling, but some of the plot points are stretched to the maximum in order to pad out the book. There is a massive dip in the middle and I didn't feel that the book really recovered from that. I struggled to get to the end, and remained with it only because of my loyalty to the start of the book. Abbots a decent writer, and I am willing to give him another shot, but he needs to learn to keep momentum with his story. Its too easy to let it descend into the contrived, and when you lose your reader, its difficult to get them back again.
on 13 April 2007
This was an emergency pick up at a railway station for me, drawn in by the mega hype on the back cover and the interesting plot summary. OK, I should have known better with the hype but that doesn't change the fact that this is a bit of a let down.
The idea is good - mysterious phone call from mother to son, leads to revelation of double life and intrigue. The style of writing, though, and the execution of the idea leave a lot to be desired. The hero moves from innocent at the start, to scheming, brutal action man at the end, with little in between. He swallows great leaps of plot without pausing for breath. He takes injury, violence, deception and betrayal in his stride, and dishes them back out again with great delight. It doesn't feel even remotely real. And none of the surprises have any real impact, because you don't particularly care about the characters and you can see what's coming anyway.
I finished it, so it isn't especially *bad* but it is distinctly average, and has put me off trying again with the same author.
on 13 June 2007
Cliched characters, a plot that lacks all credibility, and an ending that splutters to a dull and unsurprising conclusion. There were times, early on in this book, when it threatened to grip and, halfway through, it was possible that it could turn out to be at least a satisfactory thriller. However, it bears all the hallmarks of being put together in a hurry, with none of the characters, particularly the hero's father, even approaching two dimensions, let alone three.I can't think of a single level on which this book works.
on 19 December 2006
This is a good book to pass some time, and doesn't require a lot of effort. The central character's transformation through the book is not wholly believable, and there are holes in the plot (e.g. travelling from the US to London doesn't seem to involve any time or timezone differences!), but that all said I still enjoyed it.
I would not put this down as an all time favourite, and compared to "The Afghan" by Frederick Forsyth that I read just before this, it does not have the same intelligence or believability (if that is real word?). You won't regret buying it, but I don't think it is book of the year material for me.
You get the impression with this book that the author had a premise and no really thought through plot. He then started writing and, as it got crazier, he worked out ways to make it all fit, after a fashion. I find it interesting that Harlan Coben, that well-known writer and endorser of other people's work, thought this was good as it reminded me of his worst excesses. Ordinary guy, ridiculous circumstances and the tart with a heart at the middle of the tale.
It's popular. Goodness, it's all over the place, but I could name twenty books better than this one for your beach. Think Greg Iles, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Simon Kernick (British and good - so rare), even Harlan himself.
If you like ill-constructed paranoid fantasies about 'the Government' then knock yourself out, otherwise refer to my reading list
on 29 April 2007
This book follows the story of Evan Casher, a successful young documentary film-maker whose whole life starts to unravel when he discovers his mother's murdered body. From this moment on, Evan is plunged into a dark and dangerous world he never knew existed of freelance spies and international intrigue.
When it comes to action and excitement, "Panic" definitely delivers the goods. You're guaranteed a dramatic fight scene or at least an earth-shattering revelation on pretty much every page and Abbott never loses this sense of momentum.
However, he does tend to ignore the "show, don't tell" philosophy and as a result, the reader often has little work to do in figuring out what is really going on - the motives of every character have already been laid bare. Also, I can't help but question the ease with which the main character becomes a veritable killing machine - after all, this guy films documentaries for a living but all of a sudden he becomes fantastically skilled in shooting, unarmed combat and hostage negotiation. Abbott seems to put it down to human's basic need for survival as well as an illustration of how far a man will go for love but it all seemed to be a bit too easy for my liking.
Nevertheless, I'd definitely reccommend "Panic" as entertaining holiday reading. Just don't think too much and you should enjoy it.
on 31 October 2006
This book is so contrived and so full of holes I don't know where to begin.
This book is predictable and I could spot the surprise plot twists a mile away, right from the opening chaptors the dialogue and prose is clunky and somewhat akin to the sort of made for tv films they only air during the daytime because lets face it no one is really paying much attention anyway.
I am surprised to see this book has had so many good reviews and it seems to be everywhere at the moment. Save your money and read something that doesn't have you working out the plot within the first 2/3 chapters.
Okay - so the premise is that a young (attractive, of course, we can't have ugly heroes or protagonists) guy who's been living a normal, not too exciting life, is suddenly thrown into a world of violence and chaos.
Out of the blue he receives a whispered phone call from his mother telling him to to go to her house - a good two to three hours drive away. He does so only to find his mother dead on the kitchen floor, he is then attacked by the unknown assailants and so his nightmare begins.....
If there's one thing I can't stand it's blow-by-blow accounts of fights - not necessarily because of the violence portrayed but because it's all so unnecessary and almost cartoon-like - I can almost see the Biffs, Splats and Wallops leaping off the page. It's boring!
The characters are cliched and not likeable and there is nothing new in the plot, it's often confusing and the writing is clunky, in fact it has the feel of a writing competition about it. It has that Jackson Pollock approach to it....throw enough at it and some of it will stick.
A friend recommended this to me some time ago but I had other things to read, then came across this at a charity shop - thank goodness I wasted only 50p on it; it will be making a return trip very soon.
No, no, no, not for me - I was almost having a panic attack reading it, and actually gave up halfway through.