Books: Hour Game

I picked up this book off a shelf at the local blood center, to read while I was enjoying my juice and cookies after giving blood. I have enjoyed previous books by David Baldacci, so I figured I would enjoy this one, even if only to read the first few pages.

At the library a couple of weeks later, I figured I might as well see if they had Hour Game so I could read the rest of the book. It wasn’t engrossing enough to keep me from ready the rest of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympian series first. But once I finished those, I went back to Baldacci’s book and finished it in a few days.

I can summarize by saying I enjoyed other books by Baldacci better. (Simple Genius is my favorite.) Once I got past the first few chapters, Hour Game certainly held my attention, as I wondered – along with private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell – who the serial killer was and what tied his crimes together. But as the body count rose, my enjoyment of the book waned.

Most of the killings are not particularly gory. (The details of the autopsies are where the unpleasantness multiplies.) But as they begin to claim characters that the reader has gotten to know, at least a little (none of the characters, even the main ones, are particularly well-developed), one becomes numbed to them. (Just as the police chief, who fainted at the first autopsy, becomes all too familiar with the gruesome scenes in the morgue.)

In the end, the string of killings makes a certain kind of sense, if a rather perverted one. It’s hard to know what to feel for the victims and their families. Few of them are very likeable. One could easily see the whole novel as a good example of the destructive power of lust, greed, pride, fear, and bitterness.

It’s better to see that such moral failings do really hurt people, than to see people get away with them. But there are much better sorts of entertainment than reading about people destroying themselves and those around them.

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3 Responses to Books: Hour Game

  1. modestypress says:

    But there are much better sorts of entertainment than reading about people destroying themselves and those around them.

    How true. That is why writers such as Baldacci are starving and wholesome, uplifting writers are flourishing.

    [Note: this comment was not approved by the anti-sarcasm decency league.]

    • Pauline says:

      Actually, Baldacci’s fans are not too thrilled with his latest books. Reader reviews of Hour Game at amazon.com are about evenly split between 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 stars. His latest book, Deliver Us from Evil has even lower ratings, with about twice as many 1-star reviews as 5-star. An editorial review says that it “lacks the creative plotting and masterful handling of suspense that marked his earlier thrillers.” What it lacks in those areas is apparently “made up for” by “extremely detailed scenes of torture and violence” (according to a 4.5 star reader review).

      There are plenty of thrillers with well-developed characters, including some very admirable people as well as scumbags. There are good books that do tell about “people destroying themselves and those around them” – but those books have a lot more to them, while this one does not.

  2. modestypress says:

    My wife likes to read [actually listen on CD through earphones] many “thrillers.” She likes some and not others. Your last paragraph I think sums up quite well her reasons why she likes some and not others.

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