The Last Minute by Jeff Abbott
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
For a book called The Last Minute, it’s a very long one indeed. Crazy long for what it is. And what it is isn’t much. A very slight story. Pretty one dimensional. Some by the numbers CIA people – and you’re never going to believe this, but one of them may be a renegade CIA person, told you you wouldn’t believe me. There are not one, but two cut out and keep shadowy, global secret organisations. One good, the other pantomime villain bad.
There’s also, for some reason best known to the author (and I can only presume his agent had to take a phone call when the author showed him/her this section of the book) a story within a story. One which is actually reasonably interesting. However, it would fit here, in context, if it was a lot, lot shorter. As it is presented here, it just drags the story of the rest of the book out to breaking point. And beyond. A few lines, presented differently, would have put over what he wanted to say about this particular character’s motives and why we could (if you’re that way inclined) sympathise with them. But I can’t see the point of it, as it is here. By the time I’d finished that section, I’d pretty much forgotten what the main story was supposed to be about!
Anyway. The preamble tells you it’s about an ex-CIA Man. There are a hell of a lot of them, ex-CIA people, almost enough to start their own CIA, judging by the number that pop up in books I read. Maybe I should go back to the first Century AD (and stay there), there surely can’t be many ex-CIA Roman soldiers, or ancient Britons, surely. Erm, yeah,well… and he’s had his newborn baby kidnapped, even before he’s set eyes or arms on it. His wife was a traitor and must have had the baby somewhere he didn’t know about, before she somehow got into a coma…I don’t really recall. Anyway, my sympathy was shown the window at this point, as I can’t stand kids. Never have done. Don’t have any of my own – luckily for some unborn child somewhere – and never will have. So, he’s on his own with the worrying and the running and the fighting and the “I’ll do anything to get my son back!” Yeah, ok, apart from that then, it is good in parts, but those parts are too widely spread to build up tension or feelings of caring if he gets the kid back or not.
Then there’s the ending. And I’ve always suspected films or books where the baddie at the end feels the need to explain everything to the hero he’s about to hideously murder (surely baddies in books and films have realised by now, that why they’re doing the explaining, help for their victim is on the way?). It’s basically an admission by the director or writer that he/she has failed with the story at that point. If they think it needs a full explanation. It’s distracting and boring because you know the hero is going to get out of the situation because it’s the end of the book and if the signs haven’t been good enough or clear enough already, for you to figure out what’s been going, you don’t care. In most cases, it’s the final nail in the coffin.
In short – interesting in parts, a reasonable diversion, but too formulaic.