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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir

Ray Quinn used to be a tough Orlando homicide detective at the top of his game-until a freak barrage of bullets ended his career and his partner's life. Now he's retired with a painful handicap, battling the guilt of his partner's death. He numbs the pain however he can-whether alcohol or anger-while holding down a night job as a night watchman in an Orlando condo community. But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, he feels the need to step out and do his duty for mankind by defending the "innocent" when the pastor's sister begs him to take on the case because her brother would have never done anything like that ever. He's a man of God after all. So Ray takes on an impossible, dead end case at the cost of his life to unravel a murder investigation so deep that it spans the Orlando political landscape and beyond. And someone wants to kill him before he finds out the truth.

What a disaster. What a mess. Where do I start? How do I write a short enough review about such a preposterous novel?

I've seen this time of novel time and again pop up everywhere throughout the suspense market, and they are all the same. The Night Watchman is just another carbon copy of the same old, worn out, ridiculous "suspense" tale. I mean, it would take more than two hands to count up the number of books that have used this very same plot pattern.

Let's start with the positive thing. Ray is an imperfect character. He has a personality and therefore has flaws. He is not a perfect male lead. However, none of the other characters are any good, including the perfect pastor victim and his sister, who forms the other end of the inevitable romantic subplot.

The impossible case Ray takes on is topped off with a ransacked apartment and nighttime beatings by men in black masks telling him to stop meddling (and a number of other Literary Trash lines). It also includes a corrupt politician and a convenient connection linking Ray's accident with the crime commited at the condo. And of course, the pastor was only at the condo because he wanted to help someone. This is all topped off with a showdown, with more Literary Trash lines.

Where did Mark Mynheir get the idea to write this? In his bio on the back of the book, it says he is an experienced homicide investigator among a number of other jobs he has had in the past. It also says he is known for his realistic fiction because is experienced in the field. The Night Watchmen is not, by any stretch of the imagination, realistic. There is nothing realistic about it except for Ray's character. This kind of stuff is shameful to the Christian market because it's no different than something someone would find in the mainstream market.

I can only hope that Mark will never write anything like this again.

1.5 stars

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