Deep State by Chris Hauty
|Deep State by Chris Hauty|
|Reviewer: Lesley Mason|
|Summary: A great protagonist and decent plot ill-served by the story-telling.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 384||Date: January 2020|
|Publisher: Simon and Shuster UK|
|External links: Author's website|
Hayley Chill is a fighter. She is every kind of fighter, and well-trained in most of them. She's army infantry and she boxes for fun – and she wins. Always. She wins because she is focussed. She works hard, mentally and physically, and she knows how to deal with the pain. She is not so much cold as controlled. This fight is against someone she is not expected to beat. And she is being watched.
Only a few days later she quits the army and a few months later she's walking into the West Wing as an intern in the Chief of Staff's office – a plum assignment but full of boring routine work. But Chill is army-trained. She is good at boring and routine. She just gets on with it. Unfailingly polite. Smart. Quick on the recovery. She is not going to make very many friends among her peers. She is going to get herself noticed.
Then, the Chief of Staff is found dead…and Hayley finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy.
I guess Lisbeth Salander meets Jack Reacher had to happen sooner rather than later. Hayley Chill could maybe have been less obviously named. She could certainly have been better served in the narration. Unfortunately The Deep State has a brilliant character and a decent plot ill-served by poor story-telling.
There is a thing that new writers are taught about needing to know their characters back-story. Where they have come from, where they're headed, what might happen to them after they walk off the stage, everything that explains why they act the way they do. It is important that the author knows these things. It is equally important that he doesn't share them all with the reader. In other respects too, this is a book that wears its research and its product placement too heavily. I found myself skim-reading within 20 pages, thinking 'shut up, let's get back to the action'.
And that's a shame because the action part of the book is good. The story of politics and intrigue and double-dealing in the highest reaches of American politics is well-plotted, with a completely unexpected twist at the end. Only it's not at the end…it should have been – but we're then taken back to fill in the blanks. I think that not only would it have been a better book for leaving us guessing on that score – but also, that part of the back story could have provided the opening for the no-doubt planned next outing.
Sadly, this isn't the thriller it should have been. The tension just isn't there.
For more dubious doings in Washington, check out Power Play by Gavin Esler
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