Dead Watch Audio CD – Audiobook, Apr 24 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
When Lincoln Bowe, a controversial Republican ex-senator, disappears at the start of this fast-paced thriller from bestseller Sandford (Broken Prey), the White House puts Jacob Winter, a veteran political operative with "an uncanny ability to navigate the world of bureaucracy," on the case. Bowe vanished shortly after making a fiery speech denouncing a rival, Arlo Goodman, the governor of Virginia and a demagogue who heads a volunteer militia group known as the Watchmen. When Bowe's burnt and headless corpse turns up, Winter is under even more pressure to discover those behind his murder. Aided by the dead man's attractive and possibly duplicitous widow, Madison, the fixer follows a trail of corpses and deception that suggests the killing may have been a staged piece of theater intended to derail Goodman's ascent to the presidency. Readers interested in a quick diverting romp without much gravitas will enjoy this, but serious Beltway fiction junkies might prefer their political thrillers to be a little more plausible. 500,000 announced first printing. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Former Virginia senator Lincoln Bowe is missing. His wife, Madison, believes his bitter political rival, Governor Arlo Goodman, is behind it. Critics scoff until she reveals a security tape showing two men loosely affiliated with Goodman threatening her in her home. Bowe's disappearance is a political time bomb. The presidential conventions are just over the horizon, and both parties fear the consequences if it detonates. The president, through his chief of staff, hires Jake Winter to investigate. Bowe's body is found soon after Winter initiates his investigation. Bowe was not a saint: his sexual dalliances, with both men and women, were numerous, and his obsession with destroying Goodman's political career may have driven him to contemplate political blackmail. Winter has plenty of suspects to choose from, and he knows the answer can be found somewhere in Washington's backrooms, where third-string campaign dirty tricksters change allegiances like other people change socks. Sandford, the best-selling author of the Prey series, displays an insider's knowledge of political infighting and couples it with his skill at creating memorable characters working through the maze of a diabolical plot. (Readers of a certain age will be reminded of Ross Thomas, grand master of the D.C. thriller from an earlier era.) The real Washington is awash with its own scandals and political time bombs, so expect readers to flock to this funhouse-mirror reflection of the real thing. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I enjoyed "Dead WatcH'. It's fast-paced with many plot twists, an intiguing heroine in Madison Bowe. Jake Winter has some of the traits of Lucas Davenport but the settings are quite different. I hope this is not just a one-off and that Sandford gives us another Jake Winter novel to enjoy as well as many more featuring Lucas Davenport.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I think the thing that makes certain political thrillers work and others fail is character construction, and for me, there were far too many characters (and their motivations) to keep track of, and it's a fairly convoluted plot. I think the main character, Jake Winter, has a lot of potential, as too many characters that we see are law enforcement, in one form or another, but for him to be a "forensic bureaucrat", as he is called, is a unique approach for a protagonist and one that could open up a new avenue for Sandford.
All in all I give it 3 stars; it kept me interested, and was a quick and easy read, but at times was a bit hard to follow, like the conversation on a fast-paced episode of "The West Wing" where they reference people and events and places with which the listener is unfamiliar.
I, too, look forward to the return of Kidd or Lucas, but I would read another Jake Winter novel, and I suggest you give it a try. Sandford is a great writer, but this isn't his best showing.
My biggest beef with Dead Watch is the bland characterization of Jake Winter (though Sandford does do a good job of making Winter not be Lucas Davenport); nearly every other character has more personality-pizzazz. Not to worry though, the Madison Bowe character and the breakneck speed of the story more than make up for that shortcoming. If I'd been turning pages any faster, I'd have probably started a fire.
I'll preface by saying that I've long been a fan of Sandford's, especially his "Prey" series. His Lucas Davenport character does for the Twin Cities what Connelly's Harry Bosch does for LA; a brooding and introspective look at the dark underbelly of society.
In this book, Sandford takes on the political melieu of Washington with, at best, mixed results.
He tries to weave a tale of murder into one of political intrigue, and unfortunately fails to fully succeed at either.
There are many examples of success to which we can compare: probably one of the all-time classics is the 60s novel "Seven Days in May". Drury's works. Those of David Baldacci, such as "Absolute Power", a terrific novel and a pretty good Clint Eastwood movie.
It's hard for me to exactly pin down why this book doesn't succeed, but it doesn't. Some elements come to mind.
1. The presidential-level political aspects just didn't work; there was no sense of the immense power or potential menace of the office.
2. The lead character (Winter) struck me as a muddled and inconsistent mess. There's an implied backstory involving his ex-wife that seems purposeless, and isn't developed. His experience as a Special Forces soldier seems inconsistent with his capabilities, and simply thrown in to make the character a "tough guy".
3. The whole nature of the murder plot - and I won't expound more on the details so as not to create a spoiler - seemed incredible and was created more for sensationalism than anything else.
4. The actual perpetrators seemed like something out of "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight", and diluted any sense of real menace they may have been intended to convey.
5. I also had problems with his Watchmen. Obviously, Sandford is using them to convey his own disapproval of the real life Minutemen, and whether or not you agree with him (and I don't) this was executed very ham-handedly.
Anyway, there you have it. I consider this an interesting experiment that failed. Two and a half stars. Now Sandford owes us a REALLY good Prey novel.
I am a huge John Sandford fan and re-read the Prey novels around once a year. Having never been to Minnesota or that part of the world, I've recently even begun to Google-Map while reading to check out all the driving that Davenport and his cronies do......
One strangely glaring difference between those books and this one, for me, concerns a small detail. The sexual tension that Sanford creates between Lucas and his various female foils is wonderful -- you can feel it building and building and wonder if/when anything is going to happen. The characters feel like human beings, going about their business, and, additionally meeting up with people that excite them. In Dead Watch, the sexual attraction bits felt like they were written by a completely different author -- sort of just *slapped* in there in an obligatory way because someone, somewhere said: "Jake and Madison HAVE to get it on!" A small point --- but indicative of a larger problem, I think.
The story in Dead Watch is marginally intriguing. Could possibly make a good Tom Cruise vehicle (oog!) But that is all that it is. I just really didn't care, one way or the other about the people. So many of the characters were pretty unlikeable and BORING that I just thought: "So what? Who cares?"
Truth be told, I think a large part of my response could be a personal backlash against politics and politicians. I'm pretty darn sick of them and their machinations. The passion and the drive that the villians have in the Prey books (even the sickos) is completely missing in Dead Watch. It is just politics. Egads.... my ennui is tripping me out!
On the whole, I would say: buy it to add to your John Sandford collection --- but don't expect anything as good as the Prey (or even the Kidd) books. And if you haven't yet read a Prey book --- MAN! You are in for some great reads.
Former Senator Lincoln Bowe is missing, then found dead. Decapitated, shot, burned and tied with barbed wire, no doubt the victim of Democratic Party politics -- unless the Republicans did it. The president calls in Jake Winter, forensic political fixer, to sort out the mess and keep the president's underwear clean. Is the dead senator a victim of the Democratic Party's storm troopers, the Republican Party's election planning, or was he killed by a gay lover? Winter knows the answers lie deep within the layers of election planning bureaucracies of the two political parties. A scandal is about to leak, and each party is planning its stain. People will die, people will go to jail. Who's to blame, or is everybody to blame?
One might think that Winter has few allies tip-toeing through this political sewer. Au contraire. Seemingly, everybody wants to help: Party honchos; the governor of Virginia; the leader of the Watchmen, the Democratic Party's Storm Troopers, even the hot and [...] widow of the gay dead senator. But everyone's got an agenda, and Winter must choose his bedmates carefully, or it could be his life next turned to goo. Winter may be cold and ruthless, but man, the guy can cut red tape. This is a dark thriller, at least as dark as Sandford's Prey series. And many of the characters are similar: Jake Winter smacks of Lucas Davenport; Danzig smacks of Rose Marie; the characters still say "Ah, man" and "Ah jeez." Only this time, there's no top 100 list of Rock 'n Roll.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as Sandford's Prey or Kidd series. While I'm just as disgusted with the media, spin and electioneering as Sandford apparently is, this book exaggerates those realities, and it has the feel of a disgusted author shouting, "ENOUGH!" It's a good read, though, no doubt about it -- it's Sandford after all. But I'm hoping this is a stand-alone, not the birth of a new series.
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