Monday, July 16, 2007

(repeat) Popcorn Novels

Gormania
Friday, January 13, 2006


"Popcorn books" is Bill Crider's apt description of books that are fun if you're in the right mood for plot stories that are entertaining to read despite all their failings. I hope I'm doing service to Bill's phrase anyway.

I used to read Stuart Woods until one of his Stone Barrington novels had a scene (from memory so don't hold me to exactitude here) where at something like midnight he decides he needs an armor plated Mercedes Benz. He's in Manhattan. Somehow he contacts the dealer and, assuring the man that price is no object, says he needs it the very next day. The dealer is in a tizzy. Who stocks armor plated Benzs? Stone leans hard and the guy has one flown in from somewhere. Now I don't mind larger than life every so often but man an armored plated Benz in a few hours? Uh-huh. And the fact that STONE BARRINGTON (how's that for a soap opera name?) needs one in the US of A...where he's going? Newark?

A slight jag here. Whenever I'm facing a day of medical tests, I usually take a popcorn novel with me. Last week I stopped at the library before hitting the oncology building and just grabbed a large print book quickly and took off with it. James Patterson and Howard Roughan's Honeymoon. I hadn't tried a Patterson in a long time, not since he had some dude living in an air conditioning duct directly above a teenage girl's bed for many many nights..and she didn't hear him. Right.

Honeymoon surprised me. This is larger than life I can accept. It's all impossibly plotty of course--I'd hate to have to outline this baby--and some of it seems (but maybe not) influened by from the Debra Winger-Theresa Winger movie (which I really liked) Black Widow and there's more sex in the first hundred pages than most people have in ten years and just about everybody's rich and beautiful and trendy...

But there's bad bad and good bad and this is excellent good bad. I flew through it because if you accept the premise then it offers real suspense. And the extensive dialogue scenes read like reasonably good TV dialogue, something ole Stone Barrington never quite mastered. But mostly it's the suspense I liked and the killer, the beautiful Nora who in places is ALMOST a real human being, and the Sidney Sheldonesque world they all live in... It's sort of fun to inhabit such a glitzy world when you live in a place that's surronded by cows.

What can I tell ya? I have to take back at least a few of the derogatory things I've said about Mr. Patterson over the years. Either his standards have gone up or mine have gone down (most likely the later). Or maybe it's this Roughan guy. Maybe he took the Patterson formula and gave it a little more style and humanity.

Whatever, this is a just about perfect popcorn novel.

1 comment:

Bill Crider said...

Those are the kind of books, all right. I gave up on Stone Barrington about when you did, but Judy keeps reading them. I gave up on Patterson long, long ago, but maybe I should give him and his collaborators another try.