Reviewed by June J. McInerney
I dub thee, Ty Hunter, heroic protagonist of Thomas Caplan’s fourth novel, The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen (December 2012), “Sir So-So Spy”, because you don’t quite live up to the hyped potential of your stunningly handsome Hollywood face and macho military training so cunningly and expertly described in this spy vs. spy novel. Sorry, but while the convincingly complex and sprawling plot line penned with a quirky, jarring writing style does have intriguingly exciting moments, James Bond you are not. Your good looks and brilliant wit (quicker than the CIA operative assigned to help you find three purloined nuclear warheads being brokered by a nefarious, snarky villain and his billionaire mentor) don’t quite cut it for me. Not even when you easily wily-woo devastatingly beautiful Isabella Cavill from the supposed love of her life as you pose undercover on her godfather’s sumptuous yacht, the Surpass, the most interesting character in the book.
Okay, you can sit there smugly satisfied on a plush leather seat of the Quiet Supersonic Transport as you fly Mach 1.5 over the North Pole on your way to dinner with the President after your spine-tingling adventure saving the world from mass destruction. But what did all that brushing with certain death get you? Fame and fortune? World recognition? Already your actor antics are written about daily in every newspaper. How about the girl, whom I knew you’d win from the very start? Okay, just maybe, if this was a true-to-life-story—which any reader with a half a brain could easily imagine it really happening—you’d get my undying thanks and gratitude.
Okay, Sir So-So Spy. Thanks. At least I had the opportunity to meet you. My hero. [Long sigh]
But, golly, if there’s a hinted sequel for you to star in again, make sure Caplan gives you more credibility and less shallowness. While you had your engaging cannot-put-it-down moments, you come off as a wimp in the first two-thirds. It wasn’t until the last 100 pages that you masterfully took control and (finally!) stood up to bat, hitting a nail-biting ninth inning tied-score grand slam home run deep into center field. Now, that’s the kind of spy thriller-cum-romance that juices up my testosterone and estrogen levels, keeping me up at night reading. Well, almost. Please also ask your author to watch for inconsistencies and beef up your lines with more crisp creativity and less trite tripe. “I’d like to kiss you, (“Please do.”) Ex-cooose me? But that is not what an up-and-coming Bond successor says. How about “I’m going to kiss you”? Then do it. Sexily. Forcefully. Politeness does well at cocktail parties, but not in an exciting adventure-packed international techno-politico spy novel with the potential of being a real thriller. It almost made it.
Maybe, like the villain, Caplan and you will come back again—and be more successful. I’ll be waiting.
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