Thursday, January 11, 2007

'Castles of Deceit' by Ron Peters

TITLE: Castles of Deceit
AUTHOR: Ron Peters
PRICE: $13.95
GENRE: Crime fiction, mystery
ISBN: 1-58961-439-9
PUBLISHER: Page Free Publishing

Castles of Deceit is the third outing for Dun Wheeling, the creation of author Ron Peters. Dun lives in the Washington DC area, and has recently become a private investigator. Although this book is third in a series, it is self-contained enough that readers can follow the action without having read the other books.

The novel opens strong. The first chapter shows the kidnapping of a teen-aged girl and the second chapter introduces us to Dun and Jennifer Paskin, a teenaged streetwalker. Then, in my view, the novel looses steam, spending several chapters showing Dun inexplicably befriending and taking in Jennifer, who’s been abandoned by her drug-addict family.

It isn’t until chapter 12 that the novel regains its momentum. This is where Dun’s previous reputation as a discreet problem solver comes into play. He’s contacted by Mike E. Lobe, an advisor to the President, to check out Mike’s boss, who is suspected of having an affair with a Russian diplomat’s wife. If word of this got out, even if untrue, the President’s re-election campaign would be seriously damaged, so a quiet resolution is much desired.

At the same time, Dun and his fiancĂ© have found a school for Jennifer, ran by one Vanessa Vampress. I should point out that the author seems to have attended the Ian Fleming School for Character Names (Mike E. Lobe’s nickname is “Mick.”) Vanessa seems to have a bewitching effect on men, or at least on Dun.

Once we get to this point in the plot, the novel moves off smartly and becomes an entertaining action romp, with more then a little humor. Dun announces at one point that he’s “putting his ass on the line for the President,” which becomes rather more literally true then Dun would like. Peters does have a good ear for dialog, and his detective character is full of amusing wisecracks.

I do have one more quibble, based on my experience as a writer. At one point, a major character is kidnapped. Instead of showing us the events from the character’s point of view, Peters tells us about it in summary after the fact.

After reading Castles of Deceit, I felt like I had just watched the heavily-favored home team play an error-riddled game but pull off a narrow win. Castles of Deceit is an okay novel, and entertaining on its own, but it could be much better.

RATING: 7 / 10


Chris Gerrib is a resident of Villa Park, IL and Director of Technology for a Chicago-area bank. This is his first novel. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University and is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Darien, IL.


Anonymous said...

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it seems like you essentially liked Ron Peters' writing (although perhaps I'm reading too much into your "good ear for dialog" and "amusing wisecracks" comments), but had problems with his plotting and characterization. If my understanding is correct, did you feel the same about the prior two novels in the series (if you read them; I wasn't positive from your review). I myself haven't read any of Peters' books; I'm just trying to decide if they're worth investigating, and if maybe a different book in the series is a better jumping-in point.

Chris Gerrib said...

Actually, Devon, you've pretty much hit it on the nail. I haven't read the previous books nor do I plan to. It's nothing against him - just a case of too many books and not enough time.

Just from book #3, I think #2 might be a better jump-off point.