Sunday, 22 March 2015

One Thing Leads to Another

I was asking myself why I enjoyed Death by Deficit so much more than the Rohmers we were reading this time last year and I think it's pretty simple:  This time last year I still expected something to happen.  I brought my own suspense.  I read thinking: There must be more happening off-screen. He must be telling me this because it's going to come back later. This guy's boss must have some ulterior motive.  The man behind the man has yet to be revealed, but when he is, the clues will have been there all along.  Nope.

If we'd read Death by Deficit last March, I would have expected the Governor General to double-cross the Prime Minister.  Or come through for him, when the chips were down. Or that the fact that they were having an affair would have meant something, anything, down the line.

Or that we would find out the Japanese had some second stage to their plan to screw Canada.  (And themselves, by the way.)  Nah.  They just woke up -- by total coincidence -- the morning the Conservatives were voted in and decided Canada was a write-off. 

It's like if someone told you The Big Chill was a murder mystery, and you watched the whole thing waiting to find out who killed the guy they were burying.

Rohmer has only one technique for creating suspense.  A character asks another character what he's going to do, and the other character says, "I'll tell you later."

Question: Has anybody ever double-crossed anybody else in a Richard Rohmer novel?  Has anyone ever had anything up his sleeve?  There's the pilot who doesn't know he's dropping a nuke in Triad, and the KGB spy at York University in Red Arctic.  But has he ever written a book where some innocuous clue was slipped-in early and revealed to mean something later on? 


  1. I think he tried in the past to create thrillers that were based on, well, the idea of a thriller. And we stuck it out, thinking he was getting better at it as he went along, actually learning things.

    But in this case, it's just a platform so characters at meetings can tell you where the Liberals have gone wrong, how great Eric Malling is as a reporter, and various other ideas Rohmer has about what exactly is wrong with Canada.

    The closet we've come to a twist is the ending of Caged Heat. For that matter, his daughter's rampaging takeover after Gator Peters is presumed dead is as close as we've come to a double-cross.

    Double crosses - feh! They take away from time that could be spent in meetings.

  2. You're right, I forgot about Caged Heat. Another reason why it might be the best Rohmer. Of course, it also includes the least shocking reveal in the history of Rohmerworld. The character who's been narrating the book is ALIVE!

    1. Caged Eagle not Caged Heat, guys (though both take place in a prison and feature a real bitch).

    2. What a great mistake to make.

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  4. Rohmer has only one technique for creating suspense. A character asks another character what he's going to do, and the other character says, "I'll tell you later."

    If I take anything away from this exercise, it's the above. But, hey, maybe Ultimatum 2 will prove us wrong.