Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words
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Walter Danley is a retired investment executive.
“When Tom Burke dies skiing Aspen Mountain, his business partner, Garth Wainwright, must find his killer. Burke was murdered and he seeks the reason. Cautioned to leave the investigation to the authorities, Wainwright won’t let go. His two closest partners, Tom Shaw and Robert Keating don’t believe his suspicion of foul play. Searching for the killer, Wainwright uncovers a conspiracy within the company of millions of dollars embezzled from investors… and some partner involvement is probable. Whom can he trust?
Suddenly, a second partner is murdered. The fraud and the murders are connected and Shaw and Keating become believers and join Wainwright’s search for the killer. The Tipping Point will be the exposure of the fraud to the SEC, which will destroy the company; will shut it down. The company’s investors are not the only ones that will lose. Wainwright is concerned for his personal net worth and his safety because he knows that one of his partners is a killer.
Wainwright adds spice to an already flavorful mix when he falls in love with Lacey Kincaid, a former Boston criminal prosecutor. They devise a plan to smoke out the guilty partners, without exposing the fraud to the SEC or triggering an FBI investigation of the interstate homicides. A perilous dance of deception implements the complicated strategy. The plan forces the killer to surface … and then … another partner dies.
From the ski slopes of Aspen to the corporate board room in Seattle, murder and mayhem follow ten business partners who succumb in four assassinations, one suicide, and three bankruptcies, leaving Wainwright and Shaw to exorcise greed, complicity, and fraud in order to restructure the company to its former acclaim.”
As I was nearing the end of The Tipping Point and considering what my final verdict was going to be, I thought the answer was clear. It was an okay story with a lot of problems in execution. Then while reading the acknowledgements I read a section that for lack of a better word I’ll call a disclaimer. It said:
If you found errors of fact or location, I would like to hear about them. As for any errors you might imagine in spelling, punctuation or capitalization, please accept this as the variance permitted with the existence of many conventions and styles of writing. There are also times my characters may use incorrect grammar, abbreviations or misspelled words in their speech, but know this is intentional whether it is to assign an accent or a way of expression.
The last part made sense. Sometimes characters do use incorrect grammar and if it fits the character it shouldn’t be perceived as an error. It was the first part that threw me, especially since one of the issues I had was what I saw as a borderline job of proofing. For example, there was the line that started “THE ASSASSIN HAD been in chicago for less-than ninety minutes …” or the one that began “THE CAB RIDE to wainwright’s condominium …” These lines start in all capitals because they are the first line of their respective chapters which is an acceptable style decision. But what purpose is served by not capitalizing the proper names (Chicago and Wainwright)? Are there legitimate conventions and styles that would say this is okay? e.e cummings might say yes, but if so, shouldn’t Wainwright be sans capital everywhere, which wasn’t the case? I don’t buy it.
But the issues I found went well beyond issues of proofing and any disagreements about what is and isn’t an error in grammar or capitalization. I’ll mention just some of them. First is repeating back story about a character. One example was repeating the rationale a character, usually referred to as The Assassin, used as justification for his career choice. While different wording was used, it communicated the same thoughts. Another example is a character named Barbara (or BJ). The reader already had her pegged from previous back story, but then the author spelled it out for the reader too dense to get it, saying, “She always managed to be with successful men. Men who thought she was beautiful and took care of her.” Way too often I’d read a line and say to myself, “I already know that.”
There are some of those errors of fact, too. One minor example was saying Lake Tahoe was in the Mountain time zone (of course, the character may have just been making a mistake). Another instance is a police detective saying this:
For instance, when we run DNA, we almost always get a hit. Unless the guy is an alien and just dropped in for a blowjob, his DNA should be in the system, someplace in the world.
In the US, databanks of DNA profiles (especially those that are available for searching in a criminal investigation) are limited to those convicted of certain crimes or at least arrested for one of those crimes, depending on state law. The laws in a number of other countries are similar. Chances of a random person or even a random criminal being in the database are well shy of “almost always.”
Then there were the things that just didn’t make sense. For example, The Assassin met face to face with a client. He’d done work for him before and hoped he was going to turn out to be a “franchise client” (one who provided him enough work to keep him busy). Then, after the meeting, he decided since the client could identify him, that he needed to be killed. Part of the justification is that the person he met with was “only a messenger” acting as a go between with the actual client. But even if it had been the client (which is who he thought he was meeting) wouldn’t the same rules apply? It seems illogical that he wouldn’t have thought of this problem before the meeting.
I could continue, complaining about rough transitions between some scenes, pointing out where the wrong character name was used, or nitpicking on other items. But hopefully I’ve given enough examples to make my case.
Some adult language.
A moderate number of proofing and copy editing issues.
Rating: ** Two stars