Thanks to this post from Astros County, I first became aware that Ed Wade, former GM of the Astros, wrote and self-published a novel via Amazon that is available for Kindle. It is entitled Delayed Honor. I had no intention of paying the $9.99 purchase price for Wade's first effort, a work of fiction pitting a former Navy Seal against local baddies as he returns home to bury his father. But when I found out it was available on the Kindle lending library at no cost, I thought, "why not?"
Why not indeed. Where do I even start? The characters are caricatures for the most part, but that's not unusual for this type of thriller. But even when Wade tried to interject a little back story on the main character, former Navy Seal Steve Laun, and his father through a flashback sequence, it had unintended consequences for me. As an argument between them degenerates into a physical altercation, Steve's father yells, "Get off me, you little bastard! I'll kick your ass up the block, you inconsiderate little jerk." And later, "Get out. Pack your stuff and get out. Get off me and start packing. I never want to see you again." Unfortunately, all I could think of was whether or not those were the same words Wade used when he was thrown to the ground and attacked by Shawn Chacon. I'm not proud of myself but I did giggle a little at the thought.
I didn't actually laugh out loud, though, until the moment in which Laun describes Valerie, the lovely neighbor of his late father, as being attired in "fashionable surgical scrubs." Mmmm ... Okay.
Most of the dialogue sounded as though it came from a bad 1970's cop or detective show ala Mannix or the like. Valerie's brother Chris, who was also former military, at one point declares, "I hear what you're saying Sis. But my whole life has been driven by a sense of duty. And the man in that house next door is a brother-in-arms. I need to help him for a lot of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with him, and some of which have a lot to do with us." And later on, as Laun interrogates one of the bad guys, "Let's try this again, Rusty. Easy or hard. I don't mind hard because I really do want to hurt someone, but I also have things to do and it's getting late, so let's try easy one more time."
The plot is a bit of a mess as well. Laun comes to find that Victor Haaf, the local bad guy, was responsible for his father's death, making it look like an accident because the father knew too much about Haaf's misdeeds. Haaf turns out to be a big-time arms dealer with a huge cache of weapons living in rural Pennsylvania (because presumably it's so easy to deal arms to the Middle East from rural Pennsylvania). When it becomes apparent that the local authorities are in cahoots with Haaf, Laun decides that he can't trust anyone, anywhere, supposedly in the entire world, including his former military contacts with the situation and decides he must exact revenge/justice all by himself. Yet for some reason he implicitly trusts the neighbors that he met about 10 nanoseconds earlier.
I was hanging in there until this point, but as Laun puts his plan in motion, the dialogue, descriptive sequences and the plot became more and more ridiculous. After interrogating/terrorizing City Manager Russell Jerud regarding Haaf's plans, Laun finally gets what he needs. "Jerud again nodded rapidly and as Laun left the room, he thought he smelled urine." Upon invading Haaf's well protected home, "[Laun] softly padded up the steps, not bothering to check for vital signs on the two guards. He knew that all six shots that he fired were lethal. Those guys were triple dead."
And in the climatic scene, Haaf (who was actually trussed like a Christmas turkey at the time and didn't constitute much of a threat) says, "And now you'll pay because if anyone gets in the way of me getting mine, they get theirs. That's the way life works. I paid my dues and I'm not about to let a bunch of small town coal crackers get in the way."
I won't divulge how the climactic scene evolves just in case someone actually wants to read the book, but suffice it to say that the over-the-top violence was evocative of Quentin Tarantino, but without the irony. It made me wonder if Ed Wade doesn't have a few unresolved issues and was maybe imagining Jim Crane in the role of Victor Haaf.
There you have it. Three hours of my life that I'll never get back, thanks to Astros County. I'll give Ed Wade his due, though. I don't think I would have the nerve to put myself out there that way to be mocked by people like me, at least not in novel form. But, all in all, I think it's safe to say that Wade is far better at waiver claims than fiction.
Delayed Honor - Currently 619,673rd place on the Kindle Best Seller's list