Reviewer Steve Moore: Steve is a full-time writer and ex-scientist. Besides his many technical publications, he has written six sci-fi thrillers (one a novel for young adults), many short stories, and frequent comments on writing and the digital revolution in publishing. His interests also include physics, mathematics, genetics, robotics, forensics, and scientific ethics. Follow Here for his WEBSITE.
Author: Dennis Quiles
Author: Dennis Quiles
The author bludgeons the reader with a hackneyed plot, stereotypical characterization, stilted dialog, and poor editing. Let’s consider the plot: A stereotypical PI with baggage all the way back to childhood agrees to meet with a stereotypical damsel in distress who is subsequently murdered. She’s a beautiful (is this a Bogart movie?) FBI agent with the stereotypical key to a safe deposit box belonging to a not-so-stereotypical and famous movie star. A stereotypical shadow government run by a stereotypical power-hungry U.S. senator wants that key. The military arm of the shadow government is a shadow organization hiding within the FBI, but the true FBI and this military arm as conceived by the author are more similar to the CIA. Agents within the FBI end up working for the shadow government without realizing it.
As you read, you might recognize some of the same plot elements from TV’s Alias series, if you’re able to read through all of the literary chaos, that is. Abrams’ work a few years back was equally far-fetched, but at least you had the visuals and the unusual plot twist of a plucky, butt-kicking heroine instead of a wannabe-Bogart broken-down PI. Quiles’ PI Jack Steele is a throwback to the good old B movie and detective stories of yesteryear, but no one spoke as he does, even back then. Most of the characters here speak in a stilted fashion, in fact. I’m a stickler on dialog—people don’t say “Iam…” and “I do not…” when dodging a hail of bullets—and that’s just the least of stilted (the romantic lines almost sound Victorian).
The Surface Beneath also has too many firefights and a wearisome emphasis on weapons, especially guns—consequently, there’s much blood and brains. Every other shot is a “double tap” it seems, as if that’s needed with the high-powered ordinance that is used. The deductive reasoning of Steele, cops, and the good and bad FBI agents is slow and ponderous—about on the level of your average five-year-old. The limitations of officialdom in real life are never this exaggerated and the bad guys are never this stupid. Moreover, they usually don’t lose their control and solve their problems by spraying their enemies as well as innocent bystanders with overwhelming firepower. Again, unreal! As Tom Clancy once said, “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”
I was able to finish this book by struggling through all the above, editor’s pen in hand and often thinking, “Where is he going? What does this mean? Whoa, who’s this speaking?” Most of the time I could resolve my confusion after a few pages (I pat myself on the back—changes from first to third person can occur in the same sentence, for example). However, the average reader would not have the patience. I have to write a review so I plowed through to the bitter end—you, the reader, have no such moral contract with the author. You just want to be entertained and possibly informed. It would be hard for you to arrive there with this book.
There are many good indie authors that will entertain and inform you—look for them. This author, in fact, has done them a disservice. He has helped perpetuate the myth that indie writing is slipshod. I’m not sure why. If you can’t edit your own product, you can always hire someone to do it. Why bludgeon the reading public with another poorly written book? It’s a terrible mistake to self-publish an MS full of errors in spelling, grammar, and style. Too many indie authors do so and they give us all a bad name.
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