Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Okay for a first attempt, but a lot of room for improvement.
on 19 July 2016
This book is okay. An easy, quick, uncomplicated, holiday read.
But, I can only imagine that those giving it 4 or 5 stars simply aren't that widely read. Certainly if this deserves 5 stars, then anything by Tom Clancy deserves 8.
Some plot elements are simply implausible. The characters offer nothing by which you can develop any empathy for them. Even the premise of the central character's loss of his wife and child left me cold in the way it was presented. The fate of the intelligence analyst was poorly handled, and the way that fate was arrived at was simply laughable. That said, a couple of the plot devices were quite clever.
Perhaps it's unfortunate that I'd recently read A Snowball in Hell by Chris Brookmyre, which has some superficial similarities to one of the central premises in this book, in which an anti-hero takes hostages and creates a public spectacle, exploiting social and conventional media to make a point about society and its elites. I say it's unfortunate, because Brookmyre's book is so much better written than this.
Brookmyre's prose is flowing and articulate, his story lines twist and turn and entwine beautifully. His characters are rich and invoke empathy, and he displays a wickedly dark sense of humour. I'm afraid none of these things can be said about Gray Justice.
Speaking of laughs, there were none in this book. Often, even where a writer's prose isn't intended to be funny, their sense of humour shines through in the voices of the characters. You'd have though that with half the cast of this book being ex-special forces, you'd have some sharp wits on display. Sadly not.
All this said, the book isn't terrible, and is worth the three stars and the quid I paid for it, if nothing more. This was McDermott's first effort, and I live in hope that his work will improve in the subsequent books. I may go and read the 4th or 5th to see if this is the case, and if so, go back to number 2. But before I do any of that, I'm going to find the author on Facebook and seek assurances that after he wrote Gray Justice, someone showed him the dictionary definition of the word "decimate" which is misused repeatedly in this book.