Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Flapjack - Daniel Ganninger

   2014; 296 pages.  Book 1 (out of 6) of the Case Files of Icarus Investigation” series.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Crime-Mystery; Action-Intrigue.  Overall Rating : 5½*/10.

    Doctor Edward Sloan has been busy lately, working on an interesting scientific project – a kind of “super battery” that would significantly impact energy consumption in everything from driving cars to supplying electricity in your home, even to powering up your e-reader.  That would be fantastic, and everybody wins, right?

    Well, not everybody seems to be pleased about it.  A team of commandos just hit his laboratory in the Engineering & Physics building at Dartmouth University, stole two of the battery prototypes, and blew up the place.  Talk about making a statement.

    Maybe they were greedy, and want to cash in on the breakthrough discovery.  Maybe they work for the electric company or a car battery manufacturer.  Nobody, including the FBI, knows for sure.

    Funny thing though.  Doctor Edward Sloan is blissfully unaware of all the ruckus.  He left Dartmouth just before everything went kablooey, and is currently MIA.  Someone ought to go find him and make him aware of his precarious situation.

    Oh, and he took the latest working model of the super battery with him.  So, about those two prototypes that were stolen from the now-demolished laboratory?  Yeah, they’re practically worthless.

    Somebody evil is going to be very, very angry.

What’s To Like...
    Flapjack follows two guys as they endeavor to get their own Private Eye enterprise up and running.  Dan Galveston brings his sleuthing experience to the venture, while Roger Murphy brings the business savvy.  The story is mostly, but not completely, told from the first-person POV, Roger’s.  It is an ambitious mix of several genres: about equal parts of Action, Romance, Intrigue, and Humor.

    There’s a nice variety of settings, both overseas and domestic.  The local spots are San Diego, Memphis, Washington DC, and Chicago.  The exotic spots are Mexico, London, and Brazil.  There’s a kewl “Behind the Scenes Look on Making Flapjack” section appended after the end of the story, which I found really enlightening.  Think of it as an “Author’s Afterword”.

    There are 74 chapters covering the 296 pages of the story (James Patterson would be proud), so  there’s always a good place to stop for the night.  The enigmatic book cover and title are explained in Chapter 69 (87% Kindle).  I liked the MO used to kill off one of the baddies.  Gotta watch out for those statues.

    Everything builds to a suitable climax.  Daniel Ganninger’s infuses an abundance of wit throughout the tale, and that's always a plus for me.  He only stoops to giving us his personal opinion once; apparently he is not keen on “eco-friendly” politicians.  Flapjack is a standalone story, without cliffhanger or teaser for the next book in the series, which is greatly appreciated.

    He stopped and smiled.  “Also, I need someone who doesn’t have anything else going on.”
    “Oh, thanks.  Does my life have that little meaning?”
    “Right now it does.  I mean, come on, I’m offering you low wages, unpredictable prospects, terrible hours, days of uncertainty, and a wish you had never come into contact with me.  Who would pass that up?”
    “Well, when you put it like that.”
    “Yes, and don’t forget the travel.  Piss poor hotel rooms, little sleep – that just sweetens the pot.”
    “How can I possibly say no?”  (loc. 350)

   “Do you see that man over there?” Galveston asked, awaiting a response.
    “Yes,” Placer answered slowly.
    “He practices the ancient art of Kilim.  If you don’t talk, he’ll get you to talk.  He can break a man’s legs with just his hands.  I would prefer not to resort to using him.  Do you understand?” Galveston threatened, and then looked at me.
   “Yes, okay.  Please don’t hurt me, I’ll answer whatever you want,” he pleaded.
   The ancient art of Kilim?  I had no clue what he was talking about, but I went along with it.  Unbeknownst to me, a Kilim was a Persian or Turkish woven carpet.  (loc. 4564)

Kindle Details...
    Flapjack presently sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  Its sequel, Peeking Duck, goes for $0.99.  The other four books in the series all sell for $3.99 apiece.  Daniel Ganninger has a second series, non-fiction, with four books in it, called Knowledge Stew, focusing on trivia, and its books sell for $3.99 each as well.

 “Who pissed in her Wheaties?”  (loc. 3612)
    Unfortunately, Flapjack felt like a “diamond in the rough” to me, in dire need of some rigorous editing and polishing.

    Editing issues.  There were far too many typos, to the point where they got distracting.  The entire “pre-Icarus” section was irrelevant and could’ve easily been omitted.  I kept waiting for it to tie back in to the main story, and it never did.  There’s lots a repetition of various thoughts and dialogue, particularly in regard to Roger sussing out the “who” and “why”.  And both the plotline and the ending, while reasonably exciting, are devoid of twists.  I like it when things don't go as planned for the good guys.

    Polishing issues.  The characters come in three colors: black, white, and gullible green.  I prefer it when the characters are gray.  There’s way too much luck involved in investigating and foiling the baddies.  Even the protagonists notice that and comment about it.  Finally, the first-person POV gets clunky at spots.  It's a plus when it allows the reader to “hear” Roger’s thoughts on matters, but a first-person POV also is inherently limiting when it comes to telling the story.

    5½ Stars.  Despite the quibbles, Flapjack was still an enjoyable read for me.  The talent that Daniel Ganninger has, and and effort that he put into creating this story and series are evident, and some slack has to be cut for anyone’s debut novel.  Books 2 and 3 (Peeking Duck and Snow Cone), are on my Kindle, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the author hones his technique each time.

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