On the way in to work this morning I found an abandoned paperback book on a bench. Turns out, it’s part of the BookCrossing project where various books are released into the wild and tracked as they work their way across the country and around the world. This particular action-adventure spy novel wandered over from a little town near Toronto. I had an hour or two free this afternoon, so I cracked it open and gave it a read.
The book is a Nick Carter adventure, “The Aztec Avenger.” For those of you not familiar with Nick Carter, think of a US version of James Bond but with more angst over his burgeoning sociopathy.
The pacing of the book is pretty quick – I finished it in under two hours, but your mileage may vary – and it had plenty of the prerequisite spy-story sex & violence, but the central mystery of the book involved a head-smackingly bad plot hole.
The problem starts as a side-complication to the central mission: someone is framing drug bosses, making sure they get caught with massive quantities of Heroin. It’s obviously a frame up – these guys didn’t get to be bosses by being stupid – but the street value of the frame is outrageous. Behind the frame? A research chemist has discovered how to make synthetic Heroin and is planting it on these guys to get revenge for his elder daughter (who OD’d on the real stuff).
And that’s where the mystery tries to be too clever and breaks itself. Everyone is assuming that the heroin is coming from someone inside the drug trade – whoever is planting it knows every key figure in the operation. So somehow this scientist is simultaneously knowledgeable enough to track down everyone of importance in the international drug trade and ignorant enough that he uses bricks of heroin to frame them when a few vials would do the job. He’s also so naive that he brings both his beautiful younger daughter and his synthetic drug concentrate along to a drug lord’s hotel so that he can reconstitute it on-site – oblivious to the notion that his formula is something that any of these guys would gladly commit dozens of murders to get hold of. Also, who takes their daughter along on a revenge trip? This isn’t exactly vacation fun time.
In the end, Nick Carter winds up killing the scientist to keep the drug lords from getting the secret formula. Of course, he does this after sleeping with the beautiful daughter and promising her that he’ll help rescue her dad.
I did mention that he’s a bit of an angsty sociopath? Right.
Anyway, that’s 204 pages, an unsatisfying mystery and an annoying anti-hero. Hopefully the next person who stumbles across this book will like it better.