Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 95-100,000 words
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Andrew Clawson lives in Pennsylvania. A Patriot’s Betrayal is his debut and was followed up by The Crowns Vengeance.
You can learn more about the author at his website.
Joseph Chase, world renowned scholar and expert on George Washington, is murdered. Within moments, his killers are blown up in their getaway car.
Joseph’s nephew, Chase, receives a mysterious letter from his uncle days after the murder. The contents set him on the trail of a secret society who will do anything to keep their secret hidden.
This was a reasonable story with several good points, however there were a number of negatives. On the positive side it was a real page turner, the characters were okay and the scene setting not bad.
But when I started A Patriot’s Betrayal I already had a problem. The premise is that George Washington hid a series of clues to a momentous document two hundred years ago that no one until now had been able to find. Yet two people, Parker and his ex-girlfriend Erika (who just happens to be a brilliant historian herself), are able to unwind it whilst being chased by a shadowy group. Somewhat of a stretch for me.
On a technical perspective there was an over use of tell rather than show. A couple of examples:
With a groan he collapsed onto the desk, blood pooling from his mouth and nose onto the table. The phone fell from his lifeless hands. The gunman moved to the desk, but there was no need. The man was clearly dead. He checked for a pulse and found none.
It’s pretty obvious the guy is dead. Why say so repeatedly? And:
Cold brew in hand, he sat down and took a long pull from the ice-cold bottle, savoring the lager’s crisp taste as it washed down his throat.
These examples also demonstrate the prose was on the descriptive side with many words used where few would suffice just as well, if not better. There are multiple descriptions throughout the book about the colour and texture of blood. Crimson one minute, sticky and black the next. An example where pretty much every item in a setting is described:
Recessed lighting cast a soft glow over the deep red paint of the room, reflecting off the gleaming hardwood floor.
Did it really add anything to the tale?
Then, the single largest issue with this novel, the repetition of the same events within scenes from all the perspectives of the characters involved – words on paper for the sake of it. A number of examples. Parker’s father died in the past by falling out of a tree. We’re told about the event three separate times, almost word for word. Parker and then Erika are separately interviewed by the police and a government agent. The interviews and descriptions are pretty much identical, we don’t learn anything we didn’t already know.
There’s a shooting in a flat. We see the action in entirety from Parker’s perspective, he escapes and someone is shot in the process. Then we see it from one of the attacker’s viewpoint, then all over again from a government agent’s. We already know what’s happened, why go over it again and again? The worst element is the tension is relieved the first time around because we know Parker escapes. The rest is just explanation of the run up. We don’t need to go over the whole shooting match two more times. Unfortunately, this continues to happen until about half-way through when the agent joins Parker and Erika.
I didn’t really take to the characters. Parker just seems too lucky to repeatedly survive all the attacks on his life. The secret society really is just a society that has a secret and some money to pay people to shoot others up. It’s not quite as shadowy as first made out and their henchmen are somewhat incompetent. The leader of the society is only concerned that if the secret comes out it will affect his finances to the tune of $20B (also repeated several times).
All of that said, the rating for A Patriot’s Betrayal initially hovered around two stars, however the second half of the book pushed it up. This was once the scenes merged and the multiple perspectives decreased. I’d probably pick up Clawson’s books in the future, just to see if some of the above had been dealt with.
Adult language and violence.
Rating: *** Three Stars