Thursday, October 23, 2008

Review: Flash

L. E. Modesitt's Flash(kindle edition) is set in the near future, where countries have been dissolved and re-created to provide a backdrop where a lot of police (called safety officers) functions have been automated, but where powers of privacy, etc., are so strong that it is almost impossible for the safety officers to gather enough evidence to convict anyone.

Into this setting, meet Dr. Jonat deVrai, a former marine who has turned himself into a product placement consultant, someone who analyzes the effectiveness of a product placement campaign. At the start of the novel, he is commissioned by a well-regarded institute to perform a study on the effectiveness of such techniques in a political campaign. This study leads him to follow 4 political campaigns, but strange things start to happen --- his business starts to boom, and then he starts to get shot at, and threats starts to show.

What's great about the novel is the realism. Jonat deVrai is no hero --- he has nieces to meet, a sister who keeps trying to match-make him, and lots of interruptions that otherwise keep him from doing his job. When he finally has to start defending himself, he starts to do so (as a trained marine would) in such a way as to not interfere with the rest of his life.

The romance in the novel is handled a bit woodenly --- the reader sees it long before the characters do, which perhaps is intentional but does leave you why Jonat is so dense! But the build up to the climax is very well done, and the ending satisfactory --- you don't get the all-loose-ends tied up neatness that some novels have that lead you to wonder if they really wanted to write "and they lived happily ever after" at the end of the book.

Recommended as a dense, interesting read, and I will look for more of L.E. Modesitt's work in the future.
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