Book Review: Damage Control – Robert Dugoni
I’ve been working pretty hard the last few weeks, both on writing, prepping for the PNWA Conference, and getting organized after the conference. So I rewarded myself by sitting down with a book today, Robert Dugoni’s Damage Control, and reading it pretty much cover to cover. I did read twenty pages or so last night, so I can’t say I read it all in a day, but I did read it all in less than 24 hours. That’s a good sign of a good book.
I read Dugoni’s first book The Jury Master a few months ago. I thought that book was good, but could use a little tightening up. Damage Control is much better. The plot lines are more believable, the characters less cookie cutter and it moves, fast. Damage Control, is a thriller, with a little bit of legalese, and little bit of politics, and a whole lot of action. It’s a great Sunday afternoon book for any reader.
I’m glad I gave the book a chance. After The Jury Master, I wasn’t sure I would. I have a very limited amount of time to read for pure fun, and if you look at my reading list (see the side bar), you’ll see a very long backlist. If I hadn’t met Bob Dugoni multiple times at PNWA events, I probably wouldn’t have picked up the book. It’s not what I generally read these days, as I lean more into adventure and Sci-Fi. But as a writer, I pulled a lot more from the book than a normal reader might
1. Every writer learns a lot from their first book, and their second book is almost always better. I’m aware of this with my writing, and in Damage Control, Dugoni’s style and execution is crisper and cleaner and better than in The Jury Master.
2. A good writer takes an event, and finds a way to amp it up beyond what the reader would expect to happen in reality, but not beyond the point of plausibility. This generates the suspense and the ‘whoa’ reaction that an ordinary story doesn’t get, and that an over the top story exceeds. Dugoni found the sweet spot. Way above ordinary, and just below where credibility is lost. There are no obvious coincidences that help to resolve the plot, and no giant leaps made by the protagonists that miraculously save the day.
3. A reader wants to sympathize with the protagonist, and to despise the antagonist. But you can’t spend the whole book making the protagonist look like a wimp and the antagonist look like some type of invincible super villain. After the first quarter of the book, the protagonist is as low as she can go, and then there is that moment, that turning point where she stops being a victim. Dugoni placed this moment perfectly, and it was at that point that I decided to skip my afternoon nap and continue reading.
I enjoyed Damage Control, and am looking forward to picking up Dugoni’s next book, Wrongful Death. The only problem is that I need to know when I’m going to have a full day alone to read it.