Emerald Flash

Charles Knief, Author
Charles Knief, Author Minotaur Books $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-19866-4
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Mass Market Paperbound - 304 pages - 978-0-312-97058-1
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-2941-7
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A mechanical, macho-minded plot is only one of the problems marring this third installment of Knief's John Caine series (Sand Dollars, etc.). Caine is contemplating leaving Hawaii to take up with girlfriend Barbara Klein in San Francisco when Margo Halliday bursts into his life. Halliday has stolen emeralds from the wrong people, and Caine agrees to protect her. Over the course of their adventures, which include killing a slew of expert assassins, they begin to bond and Caine learns the value of female friendship: women can shoot guns, too. Knief's characters are thin (Chawlie, his Chinese friend, is ""inscrutable"") and the plot fails to generate proper suspense, as it's more or less an extended chase. Although Knief refers to his hero as a detective, the retired naval officer is really a glorified bodyguard. When he needs information, he rarely has to dig for it; characters more often just cough up the truth when asked. The women here--Halliday in particular--seem intended to provide positive role models for Caine, but ironically, the novel reads as if rife with sexism (Halliday is naked and running from a gun-toting husband on the very first page). Moreover, Knief's prose can be repetitious and awkward (""I saw or heard nothing""). Admirers of hard-boiled fiction with intricate plots and shady characters will be disappointed to find hurry-up storytelling and caricatures here. (Apr.)
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