Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Review: "True Fiction" by Lee Goldberg

Hollywood, instead of "rebooting" a franchise for the umpteenth time, adapting another television or Broadway show into a movie, or launching another comic book character, I have your next property right here. Lee Goldberg's newest novel, True Fiction already reads like a movie, combining a little bit of television shows like Castle with movies like the Jack Reacher series. It's a quick read, with appealing characters and a frenetic pace.

Ian Ludlow is an author of a best-selling series of thrillers featuring Clint Straker, a James Bond-esque action hero who always knows how to save the day—and perhaps the world—and, as you might imagine, is quite popular with women all over the globe. But as much as he'd like to think there are lots of similarities with his character, no one would mistake Ludlow for Clint Straker.

"What they saw was a guy on the dark side of thirty with the soft body of someone whose idea of exercise was walking into McDonald's rather than using the drive-through."

When a passenger plane crashes into a busy Waikiki hotel, Ludlow is horrified, because he knows this wasn't just some tragic accident, and he knows who is behind it. He knows because several years ago, he was part of a group of thriller writers tasked by the CIA to dream up the unlikeliest of terror scenarios, ostensibly to help the agency prepare for any potential disaster. During that group meeting, Ludlow was the one who dreamed up how something like this could happen.

After he puts together some facts about recent occurrences in his life, he realizes his life is in danger. With Margo, the woman hired to escort him to a few local book signings, as his only companion, Ludlow must figure out how to stay one step ahead of the shadowy political conspiracy that needs him to disappear. It's not too long before the pair realizes that to survive, Ludlow needs to think like his famous character—which shouldn't be too hard, since he created him, right? But the enemy they face has more resources at their disposal, and they'll stop at nothing to get rid of these dangerous nuisances.

This is a crazy book—even though so much of the action at first glance seems far-fetched, given what's been going on in our world lately, it's scary to think that at least some of this—especially the use of technology to track Ludlow and Margo's escape attempts—might actually be possible. Sure, you probably know how things will resolve themselves, but Goldberg does a great job getting you hooked on the plot from the get-go, and you can't wait to see where the story will go.

I didn't realize how prolific a writer Goldberg is—he's written more than 30 books, including 15 Monk mysteries. This was a terrific introduction to his storytelling talent, and I practically devoured this book. It was great to read a book that felt like a movie, and didn't let up on the action and suspense until the end. Hope to see this on the big screen someday, and I hope there's another Ludlow book on the horizon!

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