Review: Baby Grand by William W. Johnstone and Joe Keene


baby-grandHave you ever seen one of those action movies where you have pretty much figured out what’s going to happen after about ten minutes: who will die and how, who’s going to be in trouble, etc.? This book reads like that. It’s like a rejected Ah-nold movie script, completely lacking any joy, imagination, originality, etc. In about half an hour, I had pretty much guessed how the book would turn out and I got it all right except for one guess.

[SPOLIERS AHEAD]

The main character is a mercenary, but don’t let that make you uncomfortable. He was a GOOD mercenary: made a lot of money, killed bad people only. He goes back to his boyhood hometown after thirty years or so only to find everyone has made a pact with the devil except for a few key characters like the plucky teenage girl / sidekick (I’m sure the character had a name, but it doesn’t really matter). Luckily, Our Hero is a military expert (not much of a tactician, more of a “let’s just shoot people and blow stuff up real good” sort of action hero). Still, even though he is warned that he is fighting the Supernatural Forces of Evil and that guns will not be the answer, it turns out that guns and explosives really do a pretty good job.

There are no surprises, no suspense, things pretty much work the way the characters think they will, they don’t seem to be surprised by anything, scared of anything. I know that actors in a movie can look like they’re sleepwalking through a role, I didn’t think it was possible for characters in a book to do the same thing.

You may have seen the cover of the book, with the skeletal guy playing a piano. There is a possessed piano that we are introduced to early in the book. In a Stephen King book, there would be some doubt to the ultimate outcome. The piano would seem possessed to only one person or that person would have other problems that would make them question what they are seeing. After all, a haunted piano that plays by itself, rolls around the room and tries to kill people is pretty out of the ordinary. But in this book, you are told right off the bat that the piano is possessed. No question about it. It doesn’t really figure in the plot except as a conversation piece to anyone who comes over and it does play songs with foreshadowing titles which leads me to believe that the authors scoured at least several albums looking for record titles that would fit. Probably the only original bit of thought in the entire book.

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