Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review: Middle Man: A Lieutenant Rollie Waters Novel

Title: Middle Man: A Lieutenant Rollie Waters Novel
Author: David Rich
 Date Published: August 2013
ISBN: 9780525953234
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Pages: 320

David Rich—whose acclaimed debut, Caravan of Thieves, drew comparisons to Elmore Leonard, Robert Ludlum, and John le Carr√©—returns with a crime thriller featuring Lieutenant Rollie Waters.
Recruited into SHADE, the elite, covert group formed by the U.S. military, Rollie Waters must locate and retrieve the countless millions taken from Saddam’s cache during the Iraq War and shipped home in the coffins of dead soldiers. But when a sniper attacks the team, Rollie is forced to go undercover to solve the riddle of the graves and to apprehend the puppet master behind the whole plot.

Rollie’s own father, inveterate liar and charming con artist Dan Waters, was killed attempting to steal the first $25 million after stumbling across the conspiracy involving powerful military officers, would-be kings, and the very general who nearly destroyed Rollie during his last tour in Afghanistan.

Rollie’s undercover quest takes him from Houston and the self-proclaimed king of Kurdistan, to the treacherous, labyrinthine streets of Erbil, Iraq, and into the arms of a stunning, enigmatic woman whose motives he can’t discern. As a confirmed citizen of the fog, now more spy than soldier, Waters must uncover the man pulling the strings behind a backdrop of murder, deceit, and stolen fortune—before he disappears forever into the mist.

Being a book reviewer isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Sure, you receive copies of books before they come out and it's almost like you're hearing juicy celebrity gossip before the rest of the world. Cracking open an unreleased book is ... exhilarating. I get this giddy, kid-on-Christmas-morning type of buzz just thinking about reading a yet-to-be-released installment from an author that I have followed for years or being the first to read how a character's life has changed due to some cliffhanger at the end of the previous book in a series or when you are one of the first to be able to read the very first book from a brand new author. 

But there is also a very difficult side to reviewing books. Sometimes you have to dish out these less-than-stellar reviews about something that an author has slaved over for a crazy amount of time ... something that has probably become a best friend and/or enemy at many times during their writing process and has settled on being one of their greatest accomplishments and something they are very proud of. 

The blurb for Middle Man was awesome ... millions stolen from Saddam, a soldier turned spy set out to solve the mystery of the stolen money with only a clue from his deceased father. That sounds amazing, right? 

Unfortunately, this book just didn't hit the mark for me. I don't know what it was. Okay ... let me put it like this: books are like fish in a tank. There's a sign on the tank that says, "Don't tap the tank". I want a book to be the fish that I have to tap the tank for. I want to be banging on the tank like my life depends on it, trying to get the attention of this fish, repercussions be damned. I just didn't want to tap this tank. I wanted to walk by and drag my kiddos with me. Weird analogy, I know. But it's what popped in my head, so that's what you get. 

I can't say for sure what it was about the book. I guess it could be in part within the first couple of scenes something that happened with a Marine sniper ... the whole scenario seemed weird to me. Not that I know from personal experience whether something about the military is true ... one of my favorite people is a Marine sniper and so I asked him what he thought ... he agreed with me that something was wonky (my word, not his - Marines don't say wonky, I'm sure). 

Anyhow ... that one item didn't ruin the book. The writing wasn't BAD. The characters were well written, the story seemed full and it didn't seem to be lacking in any department. It could be that I've read so many Vince Flynn books that he has ruined me for military/spy authors. 

I really wish that I had some concrete reason as to why the book and I didn't mesh. Sometimes, the book gods just aren't smiling down on you the day you start a new book. 

Just because it missed the mark with me, doesn't mean that you won't love it! So if you're into the whole military/spy novel thing, you should definitely pick this one up and see what it's all about. You may have found a new author that you love.

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