Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: The Bank of Fear

The Bank of Fear
The Bank of Fear by David Ignatius

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a First Reads win on Goodreads, so thanks go out to Goodreads and to the publisher (Norton).

I had some serious mixed feelings here, and had to remember that 3-stars = "liked it".

And I'd say that I liked it more than, I didn't like it. There were some issues that I didn't care for along the way, but for the most part I enjoyed the experience.

It was a bit slow going early on. As I was introduced to the characters, I wasn't impressed. Book smart they might be, but they couldn't distribute an ounce of common sense to the lot of them. They were so stupid, it was unrealistic. Unrealistic that they could BE that dumb, and unrealistic that they didn't die from their stupidity. Especially the main character, Sam Hoffman. How a financial investigator could move along at his steady pace of gaffes and blunders made it difficult for me to suspend belief. And I read fantasy as my primary genre. Wizards ain't got nothing on this guy's ability to not only survive, but make money at his chosen profession.

The author is a Washington Post journalist that has won awards, and is seen as an "expert" in the study of the Middle-East. Really? I had a hard time believing in any of the Arab characters either. For the most part, their actions and plots were about as convincing as a Left Behind novel.

But all of that said, I did find myself enjoying the story once I pushed past the annoying flaws in plot and character. I wouldn't go as far as to say I cared about the characters, but once the story really got going, it had me hooked. You know, how reality television will do if you sit there watching it long enough; you know it's stupid, but pretty soon you can't take your eyes off it.

In fairness, as the plot really got churning, a lot of the ridiculous fell aside. Or I got used to it. Anyway, there were lots of twists and turns, and it kept a brisk pace all the way to the end. I was actually surprised with some of the resolution at the end (probably not a surprise, considering). After struggling to make much progress in the first third of the book, I breezed right on through the rest of it. For that, I can appreciate the experience.

But if I ever met Sam Hoffman in real life, I'd probably have to punch him in the face.

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