Reviewer John J. Hohn:
John is a frequent contributor to web sites dedicated to writing and
publishing. Raised in Yankton, SD, he graduated with a degree in
English from St. John’s University (MN) in 1961. He is the father
of four sons and a daughter and a stepfather to a son. He and his
wife divide their time each year between Southport and West
Jefferson, NC. To learn more about John FOLLOW HERE
Author: Walter Danley
Money, power and sex, not necessarily in that order, are all the matter in Walter Danley’s mystery, The Tipping Point. His story begins with the death of Thomas K. Burke in a skiing accident. An expert skier, questions come up immediately about his death. It is not until executives associated with CapVest and All Cities Corporations begin to die one after the other that Burke’s associates become alarmed. Their concern in justified because each one of them could be the next target. The novel moves forward as the members of top management in the firms fear for their lives and the ultimate destruction of their companies.
The reader would be well advised to take notes upon launching into Danley’s work. The story doesn’t develop traction immediately because the author fails to establish a protagonist in the early chapters. Thus, as one character after another is introduced, the reader can easily confuse bad guys with good guys, a bewilderment that is confounded by the cavalier manner in which Danley inserts aliases, switches from first names to last names, first names to nicknames, nicknames to initials, and other permutations. At least one chapter begins with third person pronouns without identifying their antecedents. The author may have thought doing so adds to the suspense. It doesn’t. It distracts the reader and clogs up the flow of the story.
A protagonist in the person of Garth Wainwright finally steps forward from the elite, vain, super-wealthy, callous clique of high roller executives. He, like the others, wants to save his life, his company and his eight-figure income. Wealth, power, dressing well and living high are values shared by all of the shallow draft characters in the group. Even Wainwright, for all of his dash in the end, gives the reader little insight into who he is as a man.
The women, though two are casts in heroic roles, come off as one dimensional also. The men are patronizing toward them – big boobs seeming to be the most praiseworthy attribute in all of them.
The plot relies on contrivance to carry it. DNA evidence cannot be produced in less than 24 hours. IRS supervisors do not free-lance for friends, especially not when a felony is suspected. Beneficiary designations in multi-million dollar life insurance policies are always underwritten and cannot be amended by bullying an hourly-paid clerk. An assassin would not go all day undetected on the roof of a major hotel using a mirror to spy on a topless woman on the veranda below him. The author asks a lot of his readers in suspending disbelief when situations like this come up. There may be many, many more but they are obfuscated by the in-speak of the world of high finance.
Danley also fails to maintain the author’s point of view. He switches randomly from third person to first person without giving a reader a clue. Usually first person narrative is reserved for the protagonist, or at least an important supporting character. The first person narrative appears initially in the second chapter. Readers can be excused in thinking Bennie Ruebens is the protagonist. Turns out he isn’t.
Shifting from first to third person is acceptable, but concern for the reader dictates that any such shift takes place only after a break in the text. Once in first person, the narrator is not privy to the thoughts of another or actions taking place beyond the narrator’s ability to observe. Danley ignores these limitations and endows some with the ability to read the minds. While following a first person narrative, the reader suddenly finds the unexpressed thoughts of another on the page. The effect, of course, is disorienting.
Danley can write. He has an easy flow to his style. His dialogue holds up well, although the assassin comes out with some arched improbable pronouncements, vaguely reminiscent of Batman. The characters themselves resort to word play in their banter, a deliberate affectation.
Many of the problems with the text belong at the feet of the editor. The book abuses too many good rules of writing and conventions of the novel to be taken seriously as a literary work.
The Tipping Point is a breezy novel that makes for light reading among those who want to be taken up with the glitz and glamour of wealth and power and all that it can do or cause to be undone in the world of high finance and high dollar real estate transactions. It did not make the grade for this reviewer.
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