But today I’m going to risk ridicule and use the term to outline my feelings about David Hosp’s book, The Betrayed. Yes, it sucked. In fact, “suck” is the most appropriate transitive verb I can attach to this worthless paper-bound contraption. Not only is the plot completely transparent and mundane, but the characters are cardboard cutouts of movie stars (think Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the “Lethal Weapon” series and you’ll be right on the mark) and the author’s prose is laughable (more on that in a moment).
The plot: A woman from a financially affluent family is found murdered in her home. Two detectives are called in to solve the case, Darius Train (i.e., Danny Glover) and Jack Cassian (i.e., Mel Gibson toned down a few notches). The dead woman’s sister, Sydney Chapin, becomes an investigative force, trying to track down the last few hours of her sister’s life, only to become entangled with high-powered politicians, old family history, a deadly private eye, and an emotional attachment to Detective Cassian. And that’s about all there is. If you’ve read any murder mysteries or watched any movie thrillers involving government higher-ups, you already know the ending to this lame novel.
Suckiness of plot aside, sometimes an author can pull novels along simply by utilizing flowing narrative verse or lively storytelling. This is called “prose” (something Mr. Hosp needs much help with). Myself having battled with this problem, I can easily relate to items that should never have made it into this bulky book (419 pages).
Mr. Hosp’s use of passive voice is consistently irritating and makes the entire story fall flat as a result (example, ‘As he walked...’ instead of ‘He walked...’ etc.). The other HUGE prose issue is the author’s use of “eyes” to describe every emotional state his characters feel. Page 298: ‘Train drew his eyebrows up noncommittally (Ed. — Whatever the hell that means!), and Venable’s gaze settled on him like a heavy burden. He held the stare, returning its intensity without aggression as they sat in silence for a long moment, neither one of them backing down....’ This languorous style of writing is evident on almost every page, making the story read much longer than it needed to.
So this is definitely one to bypass, or perhaps use as toilet paper — the sucking sound of the flush will match this book perfectly.
(Side note: I wonder how in the world this novel ever got published! I’ve read better stories by 8th and 9th graders. I also question the current customer reviews at Amazon.com. Could some -- or most -- of these four and five star reviews be from friends of Mr. Hosp or indirectly affiliated with the book or its author somehow?)