Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: The Fall of Billy Hitchings

In the write (sic) hands, The Fall of BillyHitchings would make an interesting indie movie. It has some quirky characters, sharp action sequences, unexpected plot twists, and an interesting take on morality with regard to "does the ends justify the means" both for the good and bad guys. As a novel, though, it missed out on the opportunity to be a very good book through some sloppiness. It needed a pass-through by a more thorough editor, not for the writing mechanics, but for ironing out the rough spots.

After a fast-paced, but hard to swallow opening, the plot settles into a story with a cast of characters that you just know are going to merge later to help clarify what's happening. Give it time. Though the characters are distinct, most are somewhat superficial. A number of "jumpy" points caused me to retrace who was saying what to whom. And by the end, some characters and subplots just disappeared (Crazy Jenny for one) from the pages without solid wrap-up. It was more annoying than story killing. Also, the black moment was hard to visualize even with the vague clarification afterwards. How does one character get away with the "good" guys while another gets whisked away by the "bad" guys when they are feet apart? The flip-flop of who had the plates (not a plot spoiler here) didn't make sense in the end, considering their value to the "owner".

On the upside, some humorous situations, mostly at the expense of the Indian character trying to master American idioms and the wiles of feminism, keeps things moving. It's word-play not slap-stick and usually well done. The book does have a good plot and John Reeves could evolve into an interesting series anchor. The story moves and is a quick read. I had a lot of empathy for Billy and his situation. Despite some of my nit-picking, this is a decent beach read and squeaks into a 4 rating.

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