What can I say, now that I have finished reading Dana Stabenow’s stand-alone thriller, PREPARED FOR RAGE? My personal reading biases tell me that I would have enjoyed the book more if she had written it under a pseudonym.
It’s a well-written book, proof that Stabenow has mastered the techniques of producing a readable novel. It’s just not what I expected when I saw her name on the dust cover and grabbed the book off the new arrivals shelf at the library.
Since her first mystery appeared in 1992, I have loved Stabenow’s novels, set in Alaska, featuring first Kate Shugak, and then Liam Campbell as main characters. Neither Kate nor Liam is in this book. Alaska plays a cameo role, by way of background reference, and a one-page scene at the end of the book.
One of the things about Stabenow’s writing I have always enjoyed was her ability to draw me in with intimate details, making me feel a part of the story. I never get that feeling from stories written in what I call the Tom Clancy style, where the first half of the book serves as a long prologue, introducing characters in different time frames and at different places about the globe before all their lives converge and the main action begins.
As a movie, top billing in PREPARED FOR RAGE would go to the skipper of a Coast Guard vessel, and a female astronaut. Vying for supporting roles would be an FBI analyst and a terrorist. For a goodly portion of the book, the CG skipper and the astronaut tend to mutual cravings while the FBI analyst tries to identify and capture the terrorist.
The book is not for the prudish.
While the CG skipper and the astronaut become entangled at every opportunity, the FBI analyst succumbs to the brazen wiles of his secretary, and the terrorist loses his virginity in an airport parking lot moments before he breaks the neck of his female companion.
Being a thriller, there is no mystery. There is going to be a shuttle launch, with the female astronaut on board. The CG skipper’s vessel is assigned to offshore security patrol for the launch. The terrorist and his crew are planning on capturing the Coast Guard vessel and using its radar-guided gun to shoot down the shuttle.
The FBI analyst figures out what is going on while in bed with his secretary, but his eureka moment and his warning to his boss come too late. The terrorist crew takes over the CG vessel, but the Coast Guard skipper, whose actions are a Jack Ryan reenactment, thwarts the plot.
If you love a racy, bloody thriller, go for it. You’ll enjoy it. Me? I want more mysteries as Stabenow can write them, set in Alaska, featuring Kate Sugak and/or Liam Campbell.