By Richard V. Rupp
When a Fresno IRS agent is murdered in his office, FBI agent Dick Hartmann and his team, including a new graduate, are called in to investigate. The trail soon leads them to a gang in Fresno and a plot for massive identity theft. From California to Mexico, Hartmann is on the job ready to take down the bad guys.
I thought the plot pretty interesting. I’m not sure the unfolding of it worked, at least not all the time. As I went through the story I discovered some problems.
Dick Hartmann: FBI agent, has a sister, played football at UCLA, former Army, crew cut blond, blue eyes
Coleen Ann Ryan: new agent, attended Villanova, has siblings, former lawyer, dark hair tinged with red
Daniel Lee: FBI agent, attended USC
Brian Brooks: FBI agent, attended BYU
Harriet Foster: black, FBI agent, former Army intelligence
Robin: Carlen-Murray: FBI agent
And there are a bunch of bad guys and more authority figures. For me, the problems started here. I like the characters, but didn’t see much of the FBI guys in action. A lot of it settled around Dick (which was fine) and Coleen. I had hoped to see a bit more of what the others contributed. There was a large chunk of the book that dealt solely with the bad guys and I kept waiting for the story to go back to the investigation by the FBI. But every time it did, here are more good guy authority figures being introduced.
I thought the voices were pretty good, including the bad guys.
However, the internal dialogue ran long for many characters. People don’t think in such long passages.
Tag lines had capitalization errors.
Some of the dialogue was ‘B’ Movie or became more ‘loose’ as the story progressed. When one of the bad guys starts his short soliloquy philosophizing on the nature of the gangs, I didn’t feel that worked and added nothing to the story.
As mentioned I thought it started out pretty well.
My issues concerned:
- The time the agents spend relaxing and away from the investigation, especially when down in Mexico. One or two times worked but every time they do something intensive or travel someplace, Dick tends to say, “Okay, everybody take a break.” Which is fine, but when down in Mexico, most of the team didn’t do anything except relax. So why are they down there? Their expertise didn’t come into play.
- Speaking of the Mexico portion of the book, as mentioned, there is a large chunk that focuses on the bad guys escaping to Mexico and hooking up with a drug king. This entire segment was okay but it could have been shorter. I wanted to get back to the FBI and the investigation. Instead, many, many days pass until the story reverts to the agents. When it did, there was no explanation on the time element. Does the story go back to when the bad guys entered Mexico or does it pick up from the previous chapter after many days have passed? As I read, I figured out it seemed to go back, but that should have been clarified. And again, they don’t seem to get too excited about ‘rescuing’ the girl that joined the bad guys and alleviating the father’s fears. When the climactic battle happens, there isn’t any aftermath scene with the father.
So, as to rank. I thought about this for awhile and considered purple, but as the dialogue faltered and the plot/scenes went a bit wonky and I realized that a lot of the good guys weren't used much, I had to down grade.