by Ted Bell
an age where most spy suspense seems overtaken by repetitive Mideast
Muslim terrorist plots, TSAR appears upon first glance to be ideally
suited for ther Cold War spy novel enthusiast, particularly given the
marketing comparing Ted Bell with Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Clive
Cussler and James Bond. What could be better, especially given
recent news headlines about Russia over the past few years? The
book description covers all the bases to attract a large market.
Unfortunately, TSAR did not live up to the expectations built up by the
marketing. Fast-paced action spy novels can be loads of fun, but
not when the action comes at the expense of characterization.
From the first few pages, Alex Hawke with his bravado and machoism, was
one dimensional and stereotypical. As a character, Alex Hawke
reads more like a man's fantasy complete with the beautiful babe in
tow. James Bond has a certain suaveness and appeal missing in
Alex Hawke. Robert Ludlum, early Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler's
novels all have more depth of character. Undoubtedly, TSAR will
appeal to a group of readers precisely for the reasons this reader did
not, which is my main reason for giving this book 2 stars instead of
one. While I would recommend TSAR to a couple members of my
family, I will not choose to read this author again.
As a reader, I do my best to choose books I will enjoy reading.
Unfortunately, the marketing of this book was as misleading as it was
helpful. Typically Atria Books Press is a marketing point
in itself for this reader because I have grown to feel that label
typically fulfills my desire for more complexity and depth.
Unfortunately, TSAR was the rare exception. Reading this book
was a chore through and through. I had to force myself to finish
it, and only then by skimming the book in forced short sessions over an
extended time. Unfortunately, for this reader, TSAR is a far cry
from the spy novels and even political thrillers more along the lines
of Jean Le Carre, MI-5, early Tom Clancy, and the original Mission
Impossible as well as the more action-oriented authors listed
Avon (February 23, 2010)
Reviewed by Merrimon,
Merrimon Book Reviews