Saturday, June 24, 2017

Kosygin Is ComingKosygin Is Coming by Tom Ardies
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

"He decided that he has fallen into the hands of the Russian version of the Keystone Cops. They were the damndest bunch of idiots he had ever run across. Nothing they did or said made any sense whatsoever."

Exactly! The last sentence of the above quote from Kosygin is Coming (1974) serves as an apt characterization of the novel. Past a certain point in the story nothing that any of the characters says or does makes any sense whatsoever. In my naiveté I have again fallen prey to the Fake Beginning Swindle, where the author cleverly sets up the plot, builds some tension, introduces apparently interesting characters to then let the plot deteriorate to sheer idiocy. Welcome to the Mickey Mouse world of political assassination!

I read the first fifty or so pages of with interest: the plot seemed promising and the writing competent. The action begins in the Canadian War Amputees Association Club, where the amputees are not your usual veterans - many of them seem to be working for intelligence organizations. Interesting. But then something strange happens with the novel: the author begins creating plot twists. First batch of twists are still acceptable, but then there happen twists on twists and starting about page 80 the plot completely stops making sense and becomes a random sequence of events not connected to others in any way. Good bye logic! Good bye common sense! Good bye reason! All characters behave like complete idiots and - worst of all - the main character alternates between being a moron and a genius of survival. Deaths and escapes from certain death abound. One of the characters, a giant named Goliath (how inventive), lifts the entire engine block over his head and throws it into the water to help dispose of a corpse. Another character is named Bjsgrkowski - indeed Polish names have an overabundance of consonants, but certainly not these consonants. Readers may find it interesting to learn what a full colonel of a powerful national intelligence organization does while he is working - here it is:
"[...] he held his arms outstretched, pretending he was airplane, and he started running around the living room that way, making the sounds of the engine [...] 'Rrrrrr. Rrrrrr....' Suddenly he veered and dived headlong into the sofa. 'Ka-boom!'"
The novel could have possibly been funny - the unusual amputee setup is so promising - yet the humor is forced and involves caricature characters or lame jokes about human excrement.

The quarter of a star that I am awarding is for the interesting beginning and for the mention of Squamish and its vicinity: long time ago my family and I spent a memorable night on a camping in this Canadian town on our way to Banff via Lilloet and Kamloops. Otherwise the novel - hailed as a "tightly wound thriller" in the cover blurb - is a disgrace to the genre and a complete waste of time for the reader.

One and a quarter stars.

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