McGRAVE by Lee Goldberg
Lee Goldberg’s new novella for Kindle is a throwback to the 1980s tough guy cop shows/movies. Bruce Willis would have been perfectly at home in the role of John McGrave (he even has that whole “Mc” in place, like in McLane).
The story is a blistering read from page one to the gut-wrenching ending. There’s not much room for examination of character or How The World Truly Works in this one. It’s pure actioner. And it fit right in for me.
When I first started reading, books were about sixty thousand words long. These days books start at eighty thousand words and go up to a hundred or a hundred and twenty thousand words. To get the story up to that length, authors have to create more and more stuff to put on the pages.
Back in the 1950s, songs tended to only be two minutes long because that was all that could be recorded on a 45 record. Then, as technology grew, so did the length of songs. “Stairway to Heaven,” anyone? Of course, that was good for DJs because they had more time to go to the bathroom during a song. But if you weren’t in the mood for that particular ditty, sorry, you were stuck with it for a while.
McGrave is one of those palate cleansing reads. Not because it’s deep and emotionally uplifting or anything like that. But because it sucks you in, yanks you through the story at a vicious pace, and leaves you sprawling, gasping for air at the finish line.
But it also leaves you exhilarated because you’ve finished a read in a sitting or two – something you don’t often get to do with today’s potboilers. I don’t want to knock those because I enjoy them as well, but I have to make time for them.
McGrave was like an old friend coming by and wanting a quick night out on the town, not an offer to set up camp somewhere. I enjoyed that about the book. The character wades into the action and doesn’t let up till the bad guy gets what’s coming.
Goldberg’s style in this one is interesting as well. As he mentions in his afterword, the story was originally a screenplay that he dusted off and wrote as a prose piece. The narrative is in present tense and really pushes the novel’s speed up into the red zone. You’re not gonna change your life with this one, but you’re gonna have a blistering read and – if you’re old enough – get to revisit some fond memories of tough guys and action.