Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Diamond EyeDiamond Eye by Arthur Rosenfeld
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Arthur Rosenfeld's "Diamond Eye" is a strange mystery novel. Generally, I like books that are strange, but this one earns the distinction by its total lack of focus. The author seems to follow too many templates, as if he was not sure what he wanted the novel to be. As a result, the book is all over the place - an incongruous, discordant mishmash of styles and themes.

Max Diamond, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service officer, finds some extremely nasty porn movies in the batch of tapes he is checking. Sickened by the utter depravity, he embarks on an investigation, which becomes a personal crusade, a quest to avenge the abused and killed children. At the same time, accidents happen to two of his Yale buddies, and his ex-lover, also from his time at Yale, arrives in town. The investigation grows more complex and it soon involves a South Florida crime overlord, drug trafficking, and Peru's Sendero Luminoso guerillas.

Mr. Rosenfeld follows the overused literary cliché that there should be something unusual about the main character. Max has a Galapagos tortoise for a pet. He is also highly skilled in t'ai chi ch'uan. We encounter a clandestine Yale fraternity, torture in Paraguay, dramatic hostage situation, humiliation of impotence, leukemia, and deeply traumatic experiences from childhood. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service's office politics is intertwined with Max's family life.

The solution of the mystery is clever, but the theatrical finale is again a bit too much. "Diamond Eye" could have been quite a good novel if only the author knew that in literature less is more.

Two stars.

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