Thursday, 11 June 2009

al-Qaeda Strikes Again

Bill Binkley:

Has taken his first excursion into fiction with this fast-paced and exciting book about international terrorists.

al-Qaeda Strikes Again

The inexplicable suicide of a female passenger at JFK International Airport and a secret list discovered by authorities in Pakistan set the stage for a diabolical and deadly a-Qaeda plot involving simultaneous and catastrophic acts of terrorism across the United States. In a race against time, the only question is whether Terrorism Task Force Leader, Wayne Kirby, and his Rambo-like girlfriend, Rennie Jordan, will live long enough to unravel the details, find the terrorists and put a stop to their deadly jihad.

A few months after OJ Simpson's murder trial a flood of novels about celebrities who had got away with something appeared on editors’ desks. The ones I saw offered nothing new and were, on the whole, barely-disguised retellings of OJ's tale.

A similar influx of derivative works arrived after 9/11, only this time they had a far more sinister edge. Stories in which the bad guys were bad guys simply because they were Muslims, or Foreign, littered the slush-piles. Most paid little attention to developing a believable plot or creating compelling characters: simply showing (or more usually, telling) that a character was somehow Other was considered enough to establish him or her as a potential terrorist. It is a deeply racist approach, and one which the author of al-Qaeda Strikes Again relies upon to tell his story.

The book begins with a woman flying into America and dying soon after she arrives at the airport. Right from the start she is suspected of being a terrorist despite there being no evidence of that apart from her name: Safia Makhdoom.

Luckily, this story is told so very badly that I didn't have to read much of it is to find my fifteen errors. The book contains a fair scattering of punctuation problems (hyphens are commonly used when dashes should appear; comma-splices abound), a couple of spelling mistakes, and numerous nameless characters which are indistinguishable from one another. The one exception is an "officer" (of what, I'm not quite sure) who is distinguished from his colleagues by the "epaulets" [sic] he wears. Whole weeks are lost in time-slips; characters disappear on trips which should be mysterious, considering how little reason or excuse is given for them: instead they are simply dull absences of dull characters in a book which you'd be better off avoiding.

I read five pages of this one, and suggest that you don't even consider trying it.

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