If you demand at least a modicum of plausibility in your thrillers, Jason Pinter's "The Mark" will quickly leave you cold. I set this aside half-way through. It would have been earlier, but I gave it an extra chance.
Uncritical readers, though, simply looking for a fast-paced thriller to while away an airline flight or something like that may find it acceptable.
The main character, Henry Parker, is implausible from the outset. Hired at the prestigious New York Gazette, he is plunked down at a desk and told to write. A grizzled old veteran gives him a chance to do something other than obituaries. (Frankly it's kind of doubtful that even obituaries are handled in the way Pinter describes.) Anyway, Henry goes off on his errand and becomes not only involved in a murder, but is accused of murdering a cop. The whole story is entirely implausible - and things only get worse.
Pinter builds his story in what I call Lego block fashion. He is not interested in building character or developing plot. His only interest is in careening from one action scene to another, regardless of how little sense they make or credibility they hold. In short, Pinter winds up using devices seen before in similar stories and quickly runs out of steam.
Running out of steam only makes things worse. Pinter has to get Parker off Manhattan Island. Anyone familiar with Manhattan knows that getting off the Island is pretty simple. But Pinter paints a picture of a police, FBI and Mafia manhunt that makes the Gestapo manhunts of old movies look like Boy Scout exercises. Oh yes, the FBI for reasons that are entirely unclear wants Parker. Little details like jurisdiction don't bother Pinter because he simply ignores them, save the tenuous plot device that the murderered NYPD cop's brother-in-law is in the FBI. And the Mafia wants Parker too because they think he has something important to them. Of course, the NYPD wants Parker for killing one of theirs. People take it on the lam from Manhattan practically every day with nothing more than bus or cab fare in their pockets, but Pinter has to create a device.
It quickly becomes clear that Pinter is actually writing the outline for a screen play, for a fast moving empty headed thriller that will star whoever the leading hearthrobs of the moment are. So he quicly creates an utterly implausible device to introduce Amanda Davies, wisecracking lawyer to be who becomes involved with this accused cop killer.
Anyone who has watched detective and crime movies from the 30s and 40s will recognize this device. But they did it better back then.
Pinter insults the intelligence of his readers on page after page in order to keep the action flowing. No need to obtain search warrants or wiretap authorizations for the bulldog FBI agent. And the Mafia's information is letter perfect. Utterly and completely implausible.
Henry Parker is a wimp. But that doesn't stop him from taking on and prevailing over the bad guys within the first half of the novel. I was reminded of old Westerns where the good guys would get 25 or more shots from their six-shooters.
As I said, I made it half-way through this poor potboiler before setting it aside. The characters are unbelievable. The plot is unbelivable. "The Mark" can be safely skipped without a feeling of loss. If it's the only thing left on the bookstore rack when your flight is delayed, it won't hurt you to read it . . . but there are far better things to do with your time.