Thursday, November 18, 2010

Deep Stepping Stones by Robert D. Miller

Deep Stepping StonesDeep Stepping Stones by Robert Miller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really, 2.5 stars, so I rounded up. :-)

Disclaimer: I know the author – he was my high school track coach.

Deep Stepping Stones is set in modern-day Montana, and follows the exploits of 2 FBI agents investigating the disappearance of 2 other agents, whose disappearance may or may not be related to a terrorist cell somewhere in the state. It is a fairly tight suspense novel, without any egregious plot holes, but I do have a few nits to pick, upon which I will elaborate momentarily.

But first a few words on the writing style – it is extremely detailed, down to describing the color of the agents’ socks, or their exact jogging route through the streets of Butte. While this serves to give the reader a feeling of really being there, a few times it moved into the realm of distraction, as when we are treated to 2 paragraphs describing the likes, dislikes and mindset of one of the agents wives, whom we never meet. I did get used to the detail after a while, and it really helped during the description of the last, desperate raid on the terrorist hide out, where the detailed description of the house layout (including a floorplan) enabled one to really get immersed in the action. Other times, however, it seemed like Miller was writing a tourist guide for Butte (or Jackson Hole), which, for my taste, went a bit overboard.

One of the things that bugged me the most was the lack of differentiation among the characters. They all spoke the same way (even the “bad guys”) and I never got the feel for who these guys really were. The minutae of descriptors merely served to overwhelm me with details, and didn’t do anything to really let me see into these guys’ heads. It was a case of the author “telling” me about the characters, rather than “showing” me, by their actions and dialog.

My largest complaint about the plot was the seemingly laid-back approach the agents took when a US Senator was kidnapped. They would knock off at 6pm and go have long, leisurely meals and then turn in for the night. And there weren’t any more agents brought in on the case – I would think that the kidnapping of a US Senator (even if he is from Idaho) would involve more than 2 agents, and there would be enough of a sense of urgency that they would work in shifts around the clock.

Don’t get me wrong, in the end, I enjoyed the book. But I do think it could have been better. Of course, I have never written a book, so I have to give props to Mr. Miller for even doing so, and for getting it published! I do hope he writes another book, because I think he will improve as a writer, and this one definitely shows promise! (Let’s face it – I’m downright envious that he had what it took to write it in the first place! I admire that ability, greatly!)

1 comment:

justmytwo said...

I fully agree with the reviewers comments: an enjoyable tale, but way too many mundane details in places. Also, a confusing mixup of characters by the author: at one point he identifies the Butte Sheriff as Joe Kelly, when in fact it was Ken O'Billovich. Later, he alternately refers to another character as Jerry McCarthy and then Jimmy McCarthy. It was hard enough to keep up with this large cast of characters without these discrepancies. There was also at least one blaring discrepancy concerning the evidence: two sets of unidentified prints were taken from the hotel where the senator had been kidnapped, one of which was identified as belonging to Roger Utter. Later though the author says there was positive evidence that both Utter and a friend of his, Cameron Jefferson, had been at the hotel. Other than the fact that Jefferson was Utter's friend, there was no evidence introduced in the book which positively placed Jefferson at the hotel along with Utter. Still, a good story, and one worth reading.