Some folks’ Guilty Book Pleasures are those paperback novels with a shirtless Fabio on the cover – books with characters named Blade (the ranch hand/firefighter) or Greer (the leggy redhead who’s sworn off men entirely, until…). I, however, find these reads good for giggles, nothing more. My mindless reading of choice is more in the vein of Tom Clancy (or, more realistically, the zillions of poor imitators. Clancy’s a damn good author). Give me a book about some rogue, James Bond-style assassin and the super-secret Agency he might or might not work for, and I’m hooked.
So when I found Bob Mayer’s Lost Girls for like three bucks on Amazon; the first line of the book’s description: “Who polices the world of covert operations? Enter the Cellar, the most secret spy organization hiding deep within the United States.” Talk about mindless-sounding melodrama! You bet I clicked that link. I clicked it good.
The plot: Three seemingly-unrelated crimes catch The Cellar’s attention, and a team of operatives are assembled to determine the link and bring the perpetrators to justice. Sounds simple, right?
Oh, how wrong you are.
Enter approximately forty-zillion characters, each with an incredibly complex backstory (Did I miss the first twenty books in this series?). By the halfway point, I was tempted to put the book down and draw up a diagram of characters.
Except something peculiar began happening. I began to notice small typos – a missing apostrophe or word here and there. At the halfway point, it was more curious than distracting.
But then the typos became increasingly glaring; I’m talking subject-verb agreement kind of things, or referring to the state of Main (no -e). VERY OBVIOUS ERRORS. When the name of a character was spelled incorrectly, I almost threw down the book in disgust.
I was reading on a Kindle and I wondered if perhaps e-reader versions of books are not subject to the same editing process, so I continued on, becoming more and more confused by the tangled web of characters. Who is the bad guy? Oh, wait, is it that one dude’s brother? Was it the DEA agent? Or was he a double-agent? Who was double-crossing who, again?
But the cake was taken when, about three-quarters of the way through, the name of one of the central characters was switched with the name of another, more minor, character.
This is the point where I about lost my shit.
Imagine reading a Harry Potter novel and, halfway through, everyone starts referring to Ron as Harry and Harry as Ron. Talk about a mind-fuck. I really did give up at this point. I hate not finishing a book, so I powered through, basically skimming the words until I got to something that made sense. Sigh.
Spoiler alert: everyone fucking dies. I mean, almost. Some people survive, but don’t ask me who because I honestly don’t know.
I should have gone with Nora Roberts.