Saturday, September 11, 2010
Review: The Seventh Compass Point of Death by Richard Sanders
The Seventh Compass Point of Death is an engaging, quick-moving thriller from Richard Sanders. The main character is a journalist-cum-PI who gets involved in a group of wannabe terrorists at the behest of an old friend, who worries that her brother has become involved. I read through the book (it's a short one) in one sitting and overall enjoyed it.
However, on reflection, I found myself of two minds concerning this book. On the one had, the writing itself was excellent---a sort of noir-ish, brisk-paced style, but with some deft descriptive touches and lovely characterization (especially of love interest Shala and her conflicted, misguided brother Roozie). But treatment of several other key characters was less rich, less developed and overall, less realistic. The government flunky was downright cartoon-ish, and main character Quinn McShane was far more cardboard than he deserved to be. I questioned how realistic some of the events in the story would be.
I also found that, while Saunders' writing pedigree (he has worked for many years as a journalist) was apparent in his knowledge of New York City and the moments of witty description, his pedigree as the editor he claims to be in his author profile was less apparent. Even allowing for some of the characters not being native English speakers (and their dialogue justifiably reflecting this) there were errors in spelling and usage that jumped out at me. Off-hand, I can recall 'bit' where 'but' was clearly meant, 'al' where 'all' was obviously intended, and other such flaws creeping into an otherwise polished story. And the exciting opening sequence featuring a dead body in a car-jacked trunk turned out to have far less relevance---and prominence---than it should have considering the time devoted to it in that critical opening chapter. I do think it is details like this which make many readers feel that self-published books are inferior. It is a shame because I think a proper edit where these mistakes are fixed and some of the less credulous and/or less well-developed aspects of the book were fixed would make this a solid, commercial-quality adventure.
That said, there were some beautiful moments in the quieter scenes with some of the better-developed characters. The pacing, and overall writing was excellent. It is definitely a worthy read---more than a 3/5, certainly. It's Probably the number 2 book I have read so far from Smashwords. But---I can't give it a 4/5 either, given the careless mistakes (one of them in the very last line of the book!) and need for just a little more editing and more time spent on developing certain characters and scenes.
So...I don't know. I recommend it, certainly. But I can't help wishing it would get a tiny bit more polish before anybody takes me up on that recommendation.