Saturday, September 7, 2013

Full Ratchet: A Silas Cade Thriller by Mike Cooper

Full Ratchet:  A Silas Cade Thiller is the second Silas Cade book by Mike Cooper.  The “hook” of this series is that Silas is an accountant who uses his military background to even the score for financial malfeasance.  It seems like an interesting premise, and the book is well-written, but ultimately it does little else to distinguish itself in the crowded thriller field.

The major failing of Full Ratchet is a muddled plot where even at the end I’m not entirely sure what they were fighting for or why they were fighting.  Silas is engaging enough as an action hero, but he doesn’t really seem overly competent, as is shown later in the book when he partners up with Harmony, a woman hired to find him for murky reasons, who proves to be seemingly much better prepared, skilled, and financed than Silas.  

A significant plot point is Silas meeting the brother he didn’t know he had in a small town outside of Pittsburgh.  The meeting is part of Silas’s reason for taking a job that leads him to Pittsburgh, but both brothers seem to quickly become very reliant on each other and far too trusting.  Silas’s brother Dave is just too inconsistent of a character for me to like or trust him.  He makes a big deal about his “baby” a souped up race car that he only drives to race, but ends up driving around in (somewhat out of necessity) for most of the book with no reference to his earlier misgivings.  His treatment of his friends, even viewed through Silas’s somewhat forgiving eyes, is too unlikeable for him to be a sympathetic character.

Cooper does several things well in this book.  The description of Pittsburgh as a contrast from major metropolis to rusting steel belt city, as well as his description of the more rural suburbs and surrounding countryside have an authentic and genuine feel to them.  The action scenes, gunfights and car chases are all exciting and well-paced (with the exception of one eye-roll inducing scene above a closed auto body shop).  The villains, however, don’t really have a face to them.  They are generic Russian thugs, one of whom is exceptionally tall and strong, but their motives or their employers motives are never sufficiently conveyed.  At least not in a way that identifies a clear path for Cade to counter.

The writing here is solid, but the plot is too muddled and the characterization, particularly of the secondary characters could have been stronger.  Full Ratchet is an interesting read, but it doesn’t really motivate me to pick up more books in the series.

I was provided an advance copy of this book.