Friday, October 1, 2010

Brooklyn Knight -- C.J. Henderson

When curator Piers Knight swings by the Brooklyn Museum to check on an artifact after a busy day escorting his beautiful new summer intern on her very first trip around New York City, he stumbles right into the middle of a robbery.

Which, normally, he'd have been able to thwart easily, as he's basically a modern-day Indiana Jones, a super-genius AND a secret magic user.

But it turns out that the mastermind behind the robbery isn't adverse to using magic, either. Or, for that matter, murder. And, shortly thereafter, Professor Knight realizes that the robbery was only the first attempt by a mysterious shadowy entity... TO DESTROY THE WORLD.

I picked this one up, hoping for something in Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden vein: hard-boiled -- yet humorous -- urban fantasy. I figured that with the premise and the cover art and the fact that there's a sequel out next year, it was a good bet. The blurb by William Shatner shook my resolve a bit -- especially because it doesn't appear to even be about the book -- but I decided not to worry overmuch about it.

Well. All Brooklyn Knight really succeeded in doing was to make me appreciate Jim Butcher all the more. The prose made me cringe (At some point, each character "chuckles" to him- or herself. Every. Single. Character.), the dialogue was unbelievable AND flat-out terrible, and the narrator explains every facial expression and verbal cue. Don't believe me? Here's an example of all three problems:

"I take your meaning," answered Knight, his tone meant to imply he might actually be considering their offer, the accent he suddenly began using letting them know he was not, "but, this being Brooklyn, what can I say but, well, you know, youze gotta do what'chu gotta do; I gotta do what I gotta do--youze know what I'm saying'?"

Piers Knight is supposed to be dashing, eccentric, and adored by every lady he meets -- I know that, because the narrator informed me multiple times -- but, he isn't. He's the sort of person who, in real life, would appear to be trying so desperately hard to be cool that you'd probably feel bad for him. But not so bad that you wouldn't attempt to avoid him at all times.

The secondary characters are either plot devices -- Bridget, his intern, is there to be beautiful, to ask questions, and to make chicken soup and tea (this book would NOT pass the Bechdel Test), -- or one-note pieces of cardboard. Security Guard "You one crazy white man" Dix just seems there to be... black. One bad guy is -- SHOCKING SPOILER! -- a middle eastern terrorist (who is, granted, possessed by a thingie from another dimension), where as the other is Egyptian, and the cops/FBI agents/military men are all pretty much interchangeable.

Oh, and there is a rather large plot hole involving the item that the entire plot revolves around. Which is, you know, a problem.

The book is supposed -- I think -- to be a fast-paced thrill-ride, full of magic and humor and excitement and laughs and some spicy sexual tension. It does not succeed on any front. In most cases, even when a book doesn't work for me, I can recommend it to other people who have different tastes.

Not this time.


Jo said...

Oh my. Good review of what sounds like an awful book.

aquafortis said...

Yikes! You know you're in trouble when the word "youze" comes up multiple times.

Colleen said...

I threw this one across the room at the end of the second chapter. Such a fun idea but so poorly executed.

Jude said...

oh that's too bad. Professor Knight sounds like a hot name.

Leila the Great said...

Colleen, you did the right thing.

SO disappointing.

And I really don't understand how/why Tor is publishing a sequel.