Monday, July 19, 2010


The Room and the Chair, Lorraine Adams, Alfred A Knopf, 2010, 315 pp

 Though she has an intriguing premise for her "literary thriller", I must unfortunately say that Lorraine Adams did not quite pull it off. "The Room" is the newsroom of a Washington DC major newspaper, where all the reporters and editors spend their frantic hours making deadlines. (Adams is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist formerly of The Washington Post.) "The Chair" is the highly dodgy Will, chairman of a secret government security department.

 Our heroine is Mary, female fighter pilot with a passion for Vipers and the obligatory complicated past. Locations range from DC to Afghanistan to Iran. I do understand, from talks I have attended by Denise Hamilton, former LA Times reporter turned crime novelist, that journalists turn to fiction when they have stories that can't be reported as news. I also understand that someone as well-connected as Lorraine Adams would want to tend towards a literary style rather than straight genre fiction.

 She does tell an exciting story. She skewers the Washington Post scene with thinly disguised major players as characters. She digs at the modern ways of warfare and security. She can write literary sentences and passages as well as many contemporary authors. For some reason, it just does not all come together as a satisfying reading experience. Michael Gruber's The Good Son addresses similar themes but is a killer read as well. If you only have time for one, read The Good Son. If you want an interesting comparison, read both.

(The Room and the Chair is available in hardcover by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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