Reviewed by Tyson
The Car Bomb
It is with reservations that I am writing a review for T.V. LoCicero’s novel Car Bomb. First, what a silly name. I mean, yes, sometimes simpler is better, but there is a ‘too plain’ category and this falls right into it. The title and pitch of this novel totally didn’t entice me to read it. I picked it up on a whim with the idea that ‘every book deserves a chance’, but when I started reading I was soon captured and found myself 43% of the way through after a couple days. One of the beauties of ereaders is always knowing how far you’ve come, and how far you have to go.
To make a bold statement, what is wrong with Car Bomb is what actually makes it right, to a degree.
From the first page, I saw the book for what was – a fast paced, short chaptered, crime novel, overrun with clichés. This semi-political thriller follows Frank DeFauw, a morally compromised, womanising, investigative reporter with a penchant for redheads with nice mouths, fast cars, and hard Scotch. Oh, but he’s also suffering from the tragic death of his oldest son. It doesn’t end there, though. The novel also casts a scorned, hotheaded mistress, a judge on the take, an angry wife threatening divorce, and a ball-busting female boss. Oh, and his co-anchor also despises him.
Under normal circumstances, people try to avoid the typecasting and this-has-been-done-a-hundred-times-before plot lines. Not LoCiero. His novel is chalked full of them!
And it works. Yeah, I know. It sounded like I was saying this as a negative, but it’s actually what I enjoyed about the book the most. Every time one was added in, I ate it up and grinned to myself.
Also, I disliked his protagonist. I’m not actually sure if I was supposed to, or maybe this is ‘dick-lit’ and men would look up to Frank, but I found him slimy, two-faced, and, even with his inner battle raging over his life choices, I found him a jerk. Which I also liked. There are far too many ‘perfect’ male leads out there and it was kind of nice to read one who actually knew he was a dirt-bag. After all, he got road-head from a spitfire wannabe reporter while cruising around in his Viper.
As you know, I do give credit where credit is due and that goes to the plot. With over eighty chapters, most of them between 1-3 pages, not a single one felt forced, contrived or unnecessary. It stuck to the point and didn’t meander all over the place. I also supremely enjoyed the fact that there was not excess verbiage, meaning it certainly wasn’t overwritten. Four pages of scenery description is going to make me fall asleep. Thankfully, Car Bomb didn’t have any excess of words. In fact, most of the sentences were just as I like them, short and choppy.
That said, I would have liked to have seen a bit more of uncertainty with (spoiler alert) the judge. Instead of the normal did he-didn’t he do it conflict, I found myself firmly rooted in the ‘he did it’ column. Then the novel was all around how Frank is going to expose him. Which also made me laugh. Instead of going to the police, which was explained with a feeble line about how they ‘might’ be involved, he decides to go all super-sleuth and figure it out on his own, even after three attempts on his life.
Now, what are my reservations about writing this review?
Well, to put it simply, as ‘easy’ of a read as it was, it needed work. Rookie errors in fact made it a harder read than necessary. When it came to sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar, Car Bomb bombed. At points, I actually was tempted to put the novel down and not look back, for the simple fact that I don’t think the time or energy went into actually getting this book as polished as possible. There were a lot of typos, a lot of sentences I needed to reread a couple times to grasp what was being said, and a lack of consistency with the tense. Personally, I don’t think there is a good excuse for such amateur errors. These issues wouldn’t fly in high school papers, so why are people putting books out with them?
The thing is, sometimes a comma isn’t subjective. Neither is tense. Or how to punctuate dialogue, unless you’re Cormac McCarthy. And trust me, you aren’t. Unless you are, and in which case, Hi.
In the end, I did like Car Bomb well enough and would suggest it to people who love that stereotypical crime fiction that travels at break-neck speed and can be read on a flight to Mexico.