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February 25th, 2004

I promised some details on this book, and editor Brett Savory has kindly provided for me. Here is a link to information on the book, the case itself, some photos, and the cover art for the book.

I had questioned if people would understand why it was The Last Pentacle of the Sun .... it is one of the seals of solomon -- that reserved for the freeing of those imprisoned unjustly. So says Brett ...

Anyway - the link, then on to work. More later.


A question

If God had come to a Confuscianist named Jim Lee instead of to an Israelite named Noah, would we have the story of Jim Lee's Junk?

Question of the day - does anyone out there do exactly the job they want to be doing -- I mean the THING they are into - the one-in-all obsession, or do we all have jobs and spend our time at those jobs thinking about all the things we should / could be doing for what we really consider our jobs -- or am I making no sense at all.

Picture Dave, database administration, webmastering for the USCG and thinking about calling his agent and wondering whether the reviews of his new book for which ARC copies are in and angst has set in - best book in the world until they arrive and now GOD is it any good sort of reaction -- and editing on the side for his nearly overdue novel redlines while wishing he was home with wife and new baby.

Job - database / web site Mind? Nowhere near either thing.

Is this odd, or just the way it is?

Okay, I started ( against my better judgement ) to read The Second Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders today. The First Deadly Sin is touted as THE definitive serial psychopathic killer novel, predating The Silence of the Lambs, yada yada. In fact, if you go and read the hype on this book, you would think it was brilliant -- and in a few places, and a few ways, it is. It was innovative for its time. The Psychopath is intelligent, steps ahead of the police who are chasing him, in love with a strange, almost SUPER-Goth woman with Nazi roots and a desire for S&M that transcends anything a single lover could provide, even if he will kill for her -- at first. I'm not complaining about that. But the book is seriously flawed. Seriously.

First off, the protagonist, Captain Edward X. Delaney - that name is repeated in nearly every other paragraph in its entirety until you wonder if it is the Captain who really drinks a "Rye highball" every four pages or the author. Every character is a "character" - no normal people in this book to speak of with the possible exception of the dying wife whose purpose in the book seems to be to fluff out pages while CAPTAIN EDWARD X DELANEY repeats each chapter to her to elicit one very obvious suggestion he could have thought of on his own before she collapses back into her illness. The politics begin with great conflict and seem to head toward resolution. The conflict between the Captain and the politically motivated bureaucrat who is put in charge of the task force to find the killer starts well and seems to be heading somewhere intriguint, even, but . . . NOT. They dispose of the bureaucrat in a few paragraphs of one chapter, as if realizing he was hanging there with no resolution in site, and then never address him again.

In fact, as the story with all its wildly divergent tangents starts to wind together and apart on its way toward one of the most ridiculous endings I've ever read, the entire fabric of the book disintegrates. Not only is this not a classic book, or on a par with The Silence of the Lambs, or Red Dragon, or any number of other books, I don't believe a modern publisher would touch it with a long stick if the author weren't already famous. Edited down to novella length, it could be good.

Some call these books police procedurals, and that makes me do a DOUBLE eye-roll. This ... CAPTAIN Delaney runs around with autonomous authority, on orders of the upper city government that wouldn't even seem plausible in a bad mobster movie, his actions subversive to the efforts of the task force assigned to the case, and of course with his string-a-long reporter who REALLY LISTENS and doesn't write the story ahead of time. Right. Almost anything he needs appears, including miraculously cured, drunken legless mountain climbers and short, retired old weapons experts who seem only half able to trace a simple ice-axe sale through sporting goods stores. Then there is the tangent with the psychiatrist obviously addicted to self-prescribed drugs with the ominous "I have to do something about this guy" overtones that go - you guessed it - nowhere. Never heard from again, this druggie-doc. And that, my friends, IS the problem.

Sanders sends out trails in a dozen directions, and he leaves all of them hanging. In fact, without half the events and characters, this would be a pretty good book - still not great -- but I wouldn't be so pissed off about it. The only good things in the book are the killer, and his girlfriend. Their interactions are surreal and well ahead of their time. The rest of it is disjointed, difficult to suspend belief on, and peopled with ridiculous fantasy-trilogy-like characters. Then poor Edward X's wife, who is sick of some sort of Proteus fever, and whose doctor has had another long, antagonistic conflict with the Captain throughout the book, dies. Now the Dr. just walks off, and the conflict? A waste of words. It's empty and pointless.

The novel then procedes to drizzle out in a ridiculous "chase" where they allow the killer to climb naked to the top of a rock cliff (when they could have easily just stopped him prior, or called the State Police ) and let him die of exposure, naked, communing with his psychopathic navel.

SO - let's begin a search folks. Let's search for two things....the perfect serial killer novel, and the reason this book is considered so good.

My first shot at each - I don't know the perfect serial killer novel, but I suspect it might be Red Dragon - the most perfect novel I've read would be Dave Wolverton's On My Way to Paradise, and the reason is that throughout it appears to be flawed pisses you off, and then WHAM -- at the end every single thing you thought was a flaw is a part of the plot, and the ending is perfect. Unlike, I'll add, The First Deadly Sin, which appears to be riddled with flaws throughout -- and IS. On My Way to Paradise isn't for everyone - it's cyberpunky to the max...but I digress.

Perfect serial killer novel - still open for debate.

Why is The First Deadly Sin so fucking popular. I think because readers are too easy to please, and critics build upon past success, so that what was an okay first novel back then has become a cult thing now - though the rest of the series isn't really any better, as far as I can tell. If you get a best-seller into the hands of marketing, and the books aren't unreadable, per se - have a few characters you can care about on a long-term basis - you can build a publishing reputation that is long-term and stable. I could name any number of currently very popular authors whose strength seems to be the same as that of soap operas, but I won't - today.

Maybe someone else can tell me something about this book I missed. I was reading plenty back when this book was published, and I read lots of books much much better than this. I waited a long time and expected to be giving myself sort of a gift - a classic I ignored in my youth. Now I'm just glad I didn't buy the series for myself one year and kick back with them until I started flinging books.

RANT OVER (lol).

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