Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Electric Highway / Robert Ryland

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Thriller

Approximate word count: 140-145,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Robert Ryland is the pen name of Robert Jacoby. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, has a degree in English Literature, and resides in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. His two books, Electric Highway and 
The Little Rock Messenger" are published as e-books on Kindle. He is a member of several writing groups, and works regularly with new and published writers.”

For more, visit the author’s blog.


“Patricia Manning suspects that her brother's death by drowning is part of a conspiracy by his energy company employer to keep a fraud from being exposed. Investigating the case, an L.A. cop begins to confirm Manning's suspicions, and they join forces to gather evidence against the conspirators.”


The line “’But it didn’t stop there,’ she reminded unnecessarily,” from Electric Highway summarizes the biggest problem I had with this book. In fact, with the exception of one minor plot discrepancy I spotted (saying only three people had some specific knowledge when it was four people by my count), it is the only issue I had. But it was a big one. I’ll come back to this, but first I’ll hit on the positives.

That nature of thrillers is such that the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief should probably be stretched with most. The villains or situations are often well outside our experience or real world situations of which we’re aware. While I hope nothing like this story has or will happen, the premise is largely built on the kind of situations that we know have occurred. In an author’s note prior to the start of the book, Ryland lays out the portions of the book that are true. On top of the reality, Ryland layers  a cast of characters and a story that, given the environment, maybe could have happened. Many of the characters, both those on the side of good and those not, were people with qualities we’ll recognize as true to life and very common. Even those who stretch credibility, don’t do so nearly as much as a typical thriller. Ryland’s premise was a good starting point and I enjoyed the overall story.

However, there were two issues with the execution. The first was a tendency to describe much of what happened as a long narrative, possibly too much for some tastes. I’m not going to say he told when he should have showed, but sometimes it seemed to lean a little in that direction. This wasn’t an issue for me, but the other problem, alluded to above, was. There were multiple instances of summarizing what happened earlier in the book. It was as though he didn’t trust the reader to put the pieces together without reminders. One example was mid-book when a detective was reviewing in his head what he knew so far. This took five long paragraphs with five different critical facts reviewed in excruciating detail. Five sentences might have been okay, if done well. Even better would have been  to cut this section out entirely. The detective’s thoughts on what he thought the evidence thus far indicated were more than enough to remind the reader of the pertinent facts. If this kind of thing happened once, it would have been too much. But I saw it again and again. Although the detailed editing functions were handled well, this book could have stood a review by a good content editor to assist in tightening up and removing extraneous sections such as this.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: *** Three stars

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