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In Extremis Mass Market Paperback – 30 October 2007
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- Publisher : Pocket Star (30 October 2007)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 274 pages
- ISBN-10 : 141657476X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1416574767
- Dimensions : 10.64 x 2.03 x 17.15 cm
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If you're a fan of the previous CSI books, you're going to be very disappointed in this one because it's nowhere near as good - skip this one all together.
Mr. Goddard aspires to that kind of clarity here, but falls far short with technical descriptions involving math, computer projections and vectors that can pull up short even one who has a knack for following all that stuff. What IS clear is his attempt to create the literary equivalent of a "bottle" story -- locale limited to the crime scene and the lab, few other meaningful settings, and those, I think, only at the very end -- and show Our Heroes in a scientific Race Against the Clock.
The drawback is twofold: First, there's not all that much at stake. There's a professional assassin unable to get away from a mountaintop locale, and if Our Guys don't solve the mystery of who's responsible for what in a "hail of bullets" crime scene at a nearby stakeout site, he'll get away. Not get away to do something bad like kill an innocent or deliver a bio-hazard into "the wrong hands," just get away. Second: There's very little human drama, and it's the balance of shattered lives against the technical road to justice that has always been the trick to a CSI mystery -- to say nothing of those cameo, yet cumulative glimpses into the humanity of the CSIs themselves.
Goddard does seem to have a handle on the regular characters in terms of attitude and tone ... but for the most part they lack depth outside of their scientific curiosity; and this is made manifest in the long technical and expository speeches he gives them to rattle off -- often peppered with internal sidebars, like this one, set off by dashes -- that keep ironically violating the verisimilitude he's trying so hard to maintain; because for all his veteran CSI knowhow (Goddard was one in real life), real people, even real science people, simply don't talk that way. Even allowing for the inevitable neatening process of art, that gives fictional characters the ability to be unusually articulate and concise, Mr. Goddard way overindulges the literary license.
It's not a horrible book, and if you like the CSI universe enough, perhaps not even a dull one ... but it makes you miss the (seeming) ease with which Max Allan Collins managed to walk the tightrope with all his previous CSI novels ... and makes you appreciate his openness in acknowledging Matthew V. Clemens as his researcher and co-plotter. I can't imagine a more difficult TV series to wrangle into satisfying tie-in novels, because the template is SO restrictive ... and reading Ken Goddard's noble but labored misfire puts into perspective just how artful the Collins books are, and how deceptive their easy flow.
I have given this book 5 stars for scientific content and 1 star for enjoyment, which averages to 3 stars. Some people will love it. I didn't, but I did admire it.