Here’s the problem. Your favourite writer has created a series centred on two East Texas boys who keep getting into trouble with criminal gangs, deranged killers and corrupt businessmen. The dialogue crackles, the action is fierce and every single character, no matter how minor, leaps off the page.
But the thing is, writing a popular series – there are now 12 books and a TV series on offer – has its drawbacks. Not every outing can be a winner. If it were, I think it would be pretty conclusive proof you’d made a bargain with the Devil. So Rusty Puppy has a decent missing persons mystery, a good villain and a satisfying conclusion. Everything clicks nicely into place. The Elephant… not so much.
The wisecracks seem forced and the similes overdone. There’s too much humour jammed into the wrong places. I don’t care how tough you are; if you’re being shot at by ruthless gunmen, you won’t be wasting time on clever wordplay. And the plot – our heroes escape from one gunfight to another trying to save a young woman – is a little too obviously made up as it goes along.
So what do you do? You buy everything he writes and you pluck the pearls from the less than satisfying, certain in the knowledge that if this book didn’t really work, there’s going to be another winner coming off the presses sooner rather than later.