Sunday, August 12, 2007

Book Review: LOST GIRLS

There are books that will shake your confidence as a writer. Especially if those books are in the same genre as the one you're writing. Books that are so good, they rip your arrogance to shreds and leave you humbled because you know you will never be able to write even half as well. LOST GIRLS, by Robert Doherty (aka Bob Mayer) is one of those books. It is that good.

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this book, a follow up to Doherty's excellent BODYGUARD OF LIES, for so long that I was beginning to worry it would never live up to my expectations. This book goes so far above and beyond what I was hoping for, I am almost speechless. Almost.

This book could as easily have been titled "Lost Men," as it is a story of men who were lost, betrayed and abandoned by their government to endure the physical torture and mental anguish of captivity, and who lost themselves and a part of their humanity as a result. The plot is complicated, with some twists that even I didn't see coming -- and I almost always see them coming. Yet it is not so complex as to be nearly incomprehensible -- a common flaw of other, less brilliantly conceived offerings in this genre -- because there is such logic and clarity in the writing.

The characters are at once incredible and believable. They are portrayed with an understated confident authority that comes from first-hand knowledge, something that is evident throughout this book. Doherty conveys a deep understanding of the complexities of human nature and the psychology of both perpetrator and victim.

From plot to character to everything else that goes into a book -- dialog, pacing, conflict, escalation of tension -- Doherty gets all of it right while telling a fascinating story that is as entertaining and compelling as it is thought-provoking, a story that will stay with you long after you've read it.

Quite simply, LOST GIRLS is one of the best damn books, of any genre, that I have ever read. I've read a lot of books.

There is a group of elite soldiers in the military, the Special Forces, who are the best of the best, who can accomplish the impossible and make it look easy. There is a group of elite writers writing fiction today who are so good, so incredibly talented, that readers buy their books without looking at anything other than the name on the cover. We knew Doherty/Mayer was a member of the first group. With the publication of LOST GIRLS, he has proven himself to be a member of the second as well.

Of course, it would be a big help, for those of us who have trouble remembering such things, if he would stick to just one name.

6 comments:

Mary said...

I love the thought of a new well-written book just waiting for me!

Off to the store now.

McB said...

Really really looking forward to this one. As I'm hoping to have my copy to take to Dayton with me, I'm leaving the other's on Bob's site for someone else. Hopefully Amazon won't disappoint me.

BCB said...

You know, it's ironic that people are going to read this review and think, "Yeah, right, you're a CB, a fan, of course you're going to say nice things."

But I don't really think of myself as a fan of any particular writer, just a fan of good writing. And I do not, ever, promote bad writing.

The truth is that I was much harsher in evaluating this book and held Bob to a higher standard than I would most other writers. I know, not fair. But geez, he's been teaching over at that writing workshop for months now, telling us what to do and how to do it, how to write a better piece of fiction.

So I opened LOST GIRLS to the first page and thought, Okay fine, buddy, I know you're smart, I know you're a good writer. Prove it. Show me how it's done. You'd better impress the hell out of me.

He impressed the hell out of me. That's not an easy thing.

jenb said...

Great review BCB.
The book is really that good.
And we are looking forward to reading yours.

McB said...

Well I am a fan of certain writers, but that just means I have high expectations of them. While I have several names that are automatic buys, there are also names that have been dropped from my list because IMO they started phoning it in. Aside from being disappointed at losing a guaranteed good read, it also angers me. A writer shouldn't betray fan loyalty by putting out less than their best.

orangehands said...

ditto mcb

good review. you made me want to get it even sooner than i am.