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.”
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.”
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?
Published by Forge Books, 2010