Author Roderick Thorp is best known for his book Nothing Lasts Forever which was the basis for the popular movie Die Hard starring Bruce Willis. Knowing only that much, you can go in to this book assuming it will be an action/adventure thriller. And it is.
The story: Coast Guard Commander Sam Merrill becomes an “All-American-Hero” symbol when he discovers a yacht, devoid of people, but filled with billions of dollars in gold, money, and drug contraband. In return for using Sam as the poster boy for the war on drugs, the US government sends Sam and his wife Amy on an all-expenses paid vacation to the Bahamas. But a pleasant vacation becomes a nightmare when Amy is kidnapped by a man known only as ‘Chino’ … a leading figure in the drug world. Sam will have to put his life on the line repeatedly to get to Amy and to stop Chino.
One very important aspect about this book to note: It is un-edited. In the Forward, Thorp’s agent notes that he received this book from Roderick in 1995. It was Thorp’s last book before he passed away in 1999. Despite success getting three of Thorp’s earlier novels made in to films (Rainbow Drive, Devlin, and Die Hard), his agent had no success in selling his Hot Pursuit to Hollywood. The agent kept thinking about the manuscript and finally found someone to publish it, just as Thorp had written it. As the agent says:
If the manuscript had been published earlier, an editor would have worked with Thorp on revisions prior to publication, but that is not the case.
Knowing this ahead of time, I think it becomes obvious to the reader that this book is not as tight as it could be.
The book moves very quickly and at times it felt as though it were written specifically with becoming a film in mind as more emphasis was placed on action rather than character. Sam is an action/adventure hero. Coast Guard stiff and unstoppable. He moves forward and pushes every obstacle out of his way as though he were invincible, and he is. And if Sam is a pastiche of every Hollywood action blockbuster hero, Amy is his perfect mate as she is doubly tough, twice as cunning, and a ravishing beauty to boot (think Brad and Angelina in Mr. & Mrs. Smith as characters). Sam plows forward physically, while Amy works on Chino’s psyche.
Thorp uses every trick in the book to make us think that Chino will be the victor in this battle, and there are even the obvious false endings (the Hollywood Phoenix … where the villain rises from certain death to make one more attempt to kill the good guys). But because all the characters are stereotypes without depth, we know from page one precisely how this will turn out.
That said, it’s still a fun read. Thorp writes his action sequences well and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a ‘lite’ book now and again. This is the sort of book you can read in one sitting, have a little fun, and move on. It does not make me want to run out and read everything else he’s ever written but neither would I refuse to read another Roderick Thorp book just because of this. It truly is a middle-of-the-road novel.
Looking for a good book? Hot Pursuit is lite action/adventure fun that can be read quickly and forgotten almost as fast.
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author: Roderick Thorp
publisher: Premier Digital Publishing
paperback, 250 pages