A Leafy Green World
By Sean Dow
His wife and daughter killed by a drunk driver and no justice to be had, bills piling up, his second employment as a doctor gone, Brent Holcomb moves to Portland, Oregon to try to find a new start on his life. Soon, however, he starts feeling a sense of being followed. He then becomes involved with a group of activists, but he realizes that these people could be very dangerous. However, he might have a few ideas.
It’s a little bit drama, a little bit thriller, with some humor laced throughout. I kept wondering if I should take this as a serious story or stick my tongue in my cheek.
Brent Holcomb: 6’2, around 220 pounds, doctor, wife and daughter killed by a drunk driver, came from a wealthy family, fluent in several languages, knows fencing, know martial arts, has a sister and brother, father a criminal, attended Tulane University where he played volleyball, sometimes smokes cigars
Robyn: black hair with a hint of red
Tony Rossi: FBI agent, a bit of 5’6”, divorced with children
Bill: barber, smoker, flat top hair, owns a Labrador, parents dead, father owned the barber sop before Bill, divorced with children
Spike: professorial looks, animal rights activist, Robyn’s former boyfriend
Some of the activist people sound like 60s and 70s beatnik/revolutionary types. With names like Che and Parkeur it harkens back to that time.
However, I never felt close to any character. There is a lot of surface material, a few descriptions, but not enough for me to have a clear image of anybody. Things and scenes happened so fast that any poignant moments slide away. As an example-and I won’t play spoiler-Bill suffers a loss. The scene moves along and although the author doesn’t gloss over the impact he doesn’t really show the effect of the death other than a moment in time.
Part of this surface material lends to the disbelieving of Brent accepting Robyn into not only his life, but his house after the first night. Yes, he’s smitten, but the swiftness of them being together was too much. Doesn’t show her moving in or where she lived before. Just too fast that everything happened.
Some of the authority voices come through and there is some cynicism from Brent.
The problem I had with the conversations was most were usually were over in a short amount of time. A little talk here and bam! move to the next scene. So there was no time for me to assess any action going on other than eating and drinking at times. There were no beats during conversations (or so few as to not matter), nobody picking up a coffee cup or puffing on a cigar. Plus, some of the dialogue was ‘told’ by the narrator, and as I mention below, telling is not a good thing to have if there is too much of it.
There is one bit of emotion seen when Brent tells off his old boss but that’s about it. However, in another scene, I’m told of Robyn’s anger instead of shown it. By doing it this way, it lessens the impact for the sake of a bit of humor.
The exception to the short conversation: Brent does do some lecturing when he’s speaking to the activists and the bad guys but these conversations run too long with no breaks.
First person from Brent’s POV for most of the book. Third person POV from other characters in a few chapters. Profanity. Relatively short chapters.
A spelling mistake or incorrect word placement here and there but not bad.
Continuity problem: Brent was driven, blindfolded, to a warehouse. However, Brent-the narrator told the reader that he was at a warehouse before Brent-the character had removed the blindfold.
This problems stems from the fact there is a lot of ‘telling’ in this book. And not just telling, but telling as from a long time in the future looking way back in the past. The old adage ‘show, don’t tell’ could have been used here. By not showing, I missed extensive reactions from characters. Sure Robyn paled at one point. Okay, but then there was more telling of how the situation was resolved.
By telling, I missed the sensory descriptions of people and places.
Ditto with any action happening. Not enough reaction, of slowing down time to bring me into the moment.
I realize that most of this plot is improbable, but went with it anyhow. However, some realism has to occur. For instance, when a character gets shot, Brent makes up a story about how it happened. However, there would be NO circumstance involving a shooting where the police would NOT be called in.
Some interesting use of words and similes and phrasing. The author exhibits some humorous wit: “There’s a place for all God’s creatures, right next to the potatoes and gravy.”
However, because I sailed through this book with no true reader involvement or excitement, and disappointed with no real climactic danger filled scene, I think I’m going to have to give this a ranking of: