Thursday, April 13, 2006

FURY by Robert K. Tanenbaum: a review

Here's the latest Joe Bob Briggs review. I finished the book prior to my California trip, but only just now had a chance to put my review notes together.

FURY by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Published by Atria Books; ISBN: 9780743452908

I don’t recall reading any of Robert Tanenbaum’s previous novels, but I suppose it’s possible I may have listened to one on audio book as I only started keeping track of that for the past year or so. I also wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy the book after the first chapter or so. Perhaps, if I had read an earlier “Butch Karp/Marlene Ciampi” novel I wouldn’t have been so quick to judge.

This is the seventeenth book in the series, so I was unfamiliar with the characters and their history. Fortunately, Tanenbaum fills in the new reader once the story begins to unfold. On the other hand, as Joe Bob has said in some of his movie reviews “there’s a whole lot of plot getting in the way of the story.”

It begins with a flashback to a brutal rape in Coney Island, reminiscent of the well known Central Park incident, with a gang of ‘wilding’ black youths beating and nearly killing a jogger. Convicted of the crime four members of the group are later freed when another who took part confesses that he was the only one involved. Now the “Coney Island Four”, with the aid of an attorney (part Al Sharpton, part Johnnie Cochran, and totally corrupt), is bringing a law suit against the city, the NYPD and the District Attorneys who worked the case. Throw in a crooked judge, another lawyer looking toward her own political career, police union officials, and some other dishonest types all tied together, things look bad. Apparently not satisfied with all this, Tanenbaum tosses in some Islamic terrorists, Russian gangsters (with ties to Karp and his family), and some underground dwellers who may be led by a serial killer thought dead. Besides the central case, we also have Marlene looking to defend a university professor wrongly accused of rape and a dirty bomb being constructed to go off in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. There’s enough going on here for several novels and a movie or two.

The mere fact that Tanenbaum is able to keep all these balls in the air is a feat in itself. Helped by a few coincidences and good luck along the way Karp & Co. are able to come out ahead for the most part, even apparently tying up some loose ends from previous books and setting things up for the next. Kind of a cheat in my book, but it’s easy to see why the author is so popular. If some of his characters come out less than three-dimensional I think I can forgive him since he more than succeeds in telling a pretty good tale.

Three stars (but kick it up another half for the closing chapters).
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