Thursday, March 9, 2017

Say Nothing

Title:  Say Nothing
Author:  Brad Parks
Publication Information:  Dutton. 2017. 448 pages.
ISBN:  1101985593 / 978-1101985595

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Their first move against us was so small, such an infinitesimal blip against the blaring background noise of life, I didn't register it as anything significant."

Favorite Quote:  "A good lawmaker has to be forever willing to change his viewpoint, to consider someone else's needs, to compromise. A judge has to learn to make a decision and stick with it."

Say Nothing is a fun read, but... Say Nothing is a quick read, but... Say Nothing is an entertaining read, but... The big "but" in all of this is that Say Nothing as a story is also implausible to the point that reality interferes with the enjoyment of the story. Reading throughout, in the back of my mind is the idea that this does not sound as if it could happen. Towards the end, as the drama picks up, that feeling is reinforced. The ending pushes it even further. So, while I enjoy the book, throughout is the reactionary thought, "Really?" So, why does this story seem implausible?

First is the background of the main character. Scott Sampson is a federal judge in Virginia. His career has been in politics and the judiciary. He is well versed in situations in which people try and influence his opinions. He has been in many situations in which he has literally and figuratively been in the line of fire. This book begins as his two young children are kidnapped, and he is told to follow directions and, as the title states, say nothing to anyone. Judge Sampson does exactly that. As a parent, I can completely relate. There is nothing I would not do to protect my children. However, the analytical side of me questions his choices. He is a federal judge connected with law enforcement and the judiciary. This may not be the first time he or his family have been threatened. Isn't there another way? Are there not protocols in place to assist in this situation?

Second is the fact that no one knows. Two children disappear. No one notices. Judge Sampson and his wife do tell her family, but other than that no one notices. The children are six year old twins and almost always together. No one questions seeing one without the other. The Sampson tell the school suddenly that the children will now be homeschool. No notice is given. No conversation is had. No red flags go up at the school. A long term employee is let go. No questions are asked. Really?

Third is the children themselves. They are precocious and surprisingly mature given their very young age. Two children are kidnapped, threatened, and possibly physically abused. Yet, these very young people maintain an equanimity that could not be found in adults in that situation. Surprising, to say the least.

Finally, there is the buildup to the dramatic ending. The buildup is long, making the central portion of the book drag somewhat. No spoilers here, but the end when it finally arrives a little over the top. One story line I find completely unnecessary. Leave the focus on the kidnapping and the court case; why introduce this complete separate side story? The ending can be achieved without it. The identity of some of those involved in the crime comes as a surprise, which is usually a good thing in a mystery. This one though leaves me wondering really? Given the setup, it seems unbelievable.

All that being said, I do have fun reading the book, suspending disbelief, and just going along. What more can I say?

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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