Review of “Last Snow” by Eric Van Lustbader

This book is the second thriller [sic] involving Jack McClure, the strong yet sensitive Special Advisor and factotum to the U.S. President, Edward Carson.

In the previous “episode,” First Daughter, Jack had rescued the President’s daughter Alli from the clutches of an evil serial killer who had kidnapped her and held her hostage for a week. In this book, Jack is once again asked to help with Alli, who has still not recovered psychologically from her ordeal. Jack, it seems, is the only one who can get through to Alli. Jack is also the father of Alli’s former best friend Emma, who died in a car crash at age 20 the year before, but hangs around in The Ether to help her dad when he’s in danger.

Last Snow avoids some of the narrative excesses of First Daughter, but not completely. The prose can be beyond bizarre. This, for example, is a description of a man admiring a girl even though he knows she is too young:

“This does not stop him from staring at the intimate dewlike sheen that licks the shadowed dell from which floats toward him the unmistakable aroma of freshly peeled lemons.”

What?!!!

This same man thinks that whatever pleasure he is getting from whatever the heck he thought before, doesn’t help:

“He is still living in the moment that occurred three hours ago but that continues like a whipping, devastating in its excoriation.”

What?!!!

Actually, that should be your question, as in: “And you continued to read this, why?” Well, you see, the local library was closed, and I was feeling alienated from my TBR pile, and there you have it…

Anyway, back to Jack McClure. He is with the President in Russia, and in his hotel room he can hear a couple arguing in the room below:

“‘I hate you!’ the woman said, her raw emotion vibrating through the pipe. ‘I’ve always hated you.’

‘You told me you loved me,’ the man said, not plaintively, which might be expected, but with the guttural growl of a stalking male.

‘Even then I hated you, I always hated you.’”

Great dialogue, that…

Meanwhile, speaking of great dialogue, while listening to the quarrel, Jack is also listening to his wife berate him on the phone:

“If you cared about me, if you cared about repairing the damage to our marriage, you would have found a job closer to home.”

Um, the Special Assistant to the President of the United States should have “found a job closer to home?” Sounds realistic to me…

Wait, I’m digressing again. Back to the USSR, or more accurately, Russia. Jack somehow gets involved with the Russian mafia, who are somehow involved with the Russian secret service, who are somehow involved with American contract killers, who are somehow involved with the previous administration, who are somehow involved with the President of Russia, who, etc., etc. The plot is very convoluted, but not in a good way. We are not talking about expert twists, but rather, an increase of muddling.

Jack gets it all, however. In spite of being amazingly naïve for someone in his position, he happens to have a form of dyslexia that endows him with Special Powers (e.g., seeing patterns that others do not, seeing dead people that others do not, and learning Russian, Arabic, and Farsi all within the same eight-month period). It’s a good thing he has this magic thing going, because you could sell this guy real estate on the moon. In fact, because of his naivety, he must eventually make use of Alli’s revelation that she too has a Special Power. Hers is to be able to detect lies. Jack finally decides (wisely) to avail himself of her Special Power in order to help him evaluate a situation before he uses his Special Powers.

In the end, the plot lines don’t all get completely tied up, but you don’t even care, because you’re just glad to be out of the book, already!!!

Evaluation: Even besides the bad prose and worse plot, if you are at all sensitive to stereotyping (such as, all Russian men are pockmarked sleazebags, and all Russian women are hot blonde babes ripe for the picking), you won’t necessarily want to pick up this book. Even if your library is closed. Try a movie, perhaps?

Rating: 2/5

Published by Forge Books, 2010

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21 Responses to Review of “Last Snow” by Eric Van Lustbader

  1. Sandy says:

    I don’t think I could read this even if you held a gun to my head. This is everything I loathe about mediocre thrillers! You poor thing. Thanks for reading it so we don’t have to!

  2. Julie P. says:

    This might sound terrible, but I wonder if the prose resonate more with guys? I’m sitting her laughing at it, but who knows?

  3. You are too funny. This review is hysterical and I can’t even tell you which line I like best. The prose you quoted is “bizarre” as you said. This cracked me up:

    “Wha?!!!
    Actually, that should be your question, as in: “And you continued to read this, why?” Well, you see, the local library was closed, and I was feeling alienated from my TBR pile, and there you have it…”

    I did read The First Daughter, but will skip this one. Sorry your library was closed. LOL

  4. Oh, my goodness, I couldn’t stifle my giggles through this one! Well written post, and you definitely were able to grab certain passages that really prove the point — I still am trying to figure out the first one in which he’s staring at a girl too young for him — what is all that dewlike sheen and freshly peeled lemons about?

  5. bermudaonion says:

    The quotes you included are enough to convince me that I don’t want to read this one.

  6. Barbara says:

    The quotes really are bizarre – “raw emotion vibrated through the pipe . . .” Hysterical! I’ll be laughing all day. This guy should write comedy spoofs of thrillers. Meanwhile, get thee to a library FAST!

  7. Alyce says:

    Oh my goodness – this sounds horrid! Definitely not something I want to waste my time on.

  8. Eva says:

    LOL This post was hilarious, although nothing could have convinced me to finish it after the first quote.

  9. Margot says:

    My favorite reviews are of the books you hate. This review was very funny. I’ve read one other book by this author. It was one of the Bourne books. He’s been authorized by Robert Ludlum’s family to keep the series going. I didn’t think the book was that bad. It just went on forever. Maybe with the Bourne books he has a better editor.

  10. Emily says:

    I agree with some other commenters in that your posts on books you hated are uniformly hilarious! Love them. And glad I don’t have to read the books in question in order to enjoy the snark. 🙂

  11. Doret says:

    Dew like sheen. I would’ve stopped reading at that moment. Thankfully you didn’t buy this one.

  12. zibilee says:

    I don’t read this genre very much, but it sounds like this book was horrible! Sorry to hear that it was such a poor read for you. Hopefully the next book you pick up will be light years better!

  13. I thoroughly enjoyed your review, especially the way you described the heavy handed prose. 😉

  14. Staci says:

    Oh…that was sad dialogue for sure! I’m passing.

  15. Jenners says:

    Admit it … you had plenty of good books to read but you just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write this very fun to read review. Sometimes writing a negative review can be so fun.

  16. I’ll never smell a freshly peeled lemon without thinking of this review!

    Great pick-me-up this evening … thanks!

  17. stacybuckeye says:

    You felt ‘alienated from your TBR pile’ 🙂 Been there. Those excerpts are hilarious.

  18. Harvey says:

    Well, I just got around to reading it. I thank my lucky stars that I got it on Ebay for $1.49 because that (maybe) is all it was worth.

  19. K Taylor says:

    I just finished this book – obviously I did not read your review first, or it would have saved me $20! – not to mention the frustration of trying to figure out all the plots (which I gave up on about a third of the way through the book – I kid you not!). I only finished it because I wanted to see who actually ended up surviving, and it the hope it was going to get better. Personally – I blame Lee Child. I love his books but there hasn’t been a new one out for a while but I was fooled by his comment on the cover “Action, suspense, and politics blended to perfection by a master”.

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