Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Pegasus Secret - Gregg Loomis


2006; 369 pages. Genre : Cri-Fi (Crichton Fiction). Book #1 of the Langford Reilly series. Ballyhooed like crazy at Barnes & Noble a couple weeks ago. Overall Rating : C-.
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After an explosion in Paris kills his sister and her son, ex-CIA and now-lawyer Langdon Reilly vows to find the perpetrators and take his revenge. But his investigation uncovers a much deeper mystery (naturally), involving an ancient mystical order, the Holy Grail, and a hidden message in a painting, a jpeg of which is at the end of this review.
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What's To Like...
TPS has the standard Crichton formula - start out with a bang (okay, it's more of a "boom"), and deliver non-stop action from then on. There actually is a lot of speculation about a hidden meaning in this painting (see Wiki's article here), and Loomis puts a novel spin on it.
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The flashbacks to the 1300's offer a nice contrast to the storyline, and Loomis refrains from getting "preachy" (take note, Dan Brown). Finally, the Gnostics are in it, which is always a plus for me.
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Goodness me. Then why the low rating?
Because there were a lot of irritations and plot weaknesses. Here are the major ones :
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Footnotes. Loomis uses them abundantly in the flashback chapters. But he puts them at the end of the chapter, so you're constantly flipping back and forth to read them. They ought to be at the bottom of each page. Critical? No. Annoying? Yes.
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Castigation versus Castration. Reilly's GF is a sexy German who constantly misuses English words. At one point she means to say "castration", but comes up with "castigation" instead. Folks, castigation is not a common word. If you're fluent enough in a foreign language to know this verb, you're not going to confuse it with castration. I'm sure this is supposed to be comic relief, but after 50 of these mix-ups, it gets old. You get the tip. I mean 'point'. Yeah, she used that one, too.
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Sniper Gender. For some reason, Reilly hides the sniper's gender (via ixnay on the pronouns), so that you're supposed to be in the dark about the identity. But it serves no purpose and it's obvious who he/she/it really is.
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T&I (Torture & Interrogation). The bad guys are going to T&I our hero. But clever Reilly is really clever - he asks them questions instead. And they answer him. Then they give him an electro-shock to scare him into telling all. But after one jolt, they leave to go do some chanting for a couple hours before renewing the T&I. Didn't they watch those Austin Powers movies?
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Paging Dr. Moriarty. The UE (Ultimate Evil) guy isn't developed at all. He makes a late entrance, blows it for the whole mystical order, and is disappointingly incompetent. Sorry, I like it better when the UE is a worthy opponent.
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The ending is clunky. The fact is, Reilly doesn't have any bargaining chips, but the bad guys acquiesce anyway. "Hey, I know where the Grail is!" (So we'll move it.) "I'll expose your secret organization." (Sorry, the blaring police raid did that already) "I'll blackmail you about your blackmailing operation." (Do you realize you have no evidence of that?)
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Finally, there's a superfluous epilogue, unless Reilly is going to give up lawyering to become a tent revivalist.
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Bottom line - I just couldn't buy into the story, and that meant it wasn't exciting to read. Interestingly, the first four killings all took place off-screen, and for a while I thought Loomis was going to write this in "cozy" style. Now that would've been something. But then the bodies start dropping on-screen, so there went that possibility.
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Maybe I'm expecting too much for a debut novel to be equal to Jurassic Park or The Da Vinci Code. There are 4 or 5 books in the series now, and it's quite possible that Loomis hits his stride with time. The Amazon reviews are more or less evenly split from 5* to 1* (the overall rating is 3½ stars). The few Book Blogs that review it are mostly positive. So while I can't personally recommend The Pegasus Secret, it should be noted that there are other fans of this genre who rate it higher.
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23 comments:

Lula O said...

Crikey someone finally did another review! Little sick of seeing mine at the top. Okay, now I'll read your review.

Lula O said...

I kept thinking of Dan Brown the whole time I was reading this. Hmm, I wonder if Loomis ever did either. Duh! Hell the name is even the same. I don't like footnotes at the end either. Dumb.

I'm going to try really hard to use ballyhooed in a sentence tomorrow.

Julie said...

Wow, I learned a lot from reading your review. Very informative about what makes a book tick or not. Sorry this was a bit of a disappointment for you. I enjoyed reading the Wiki article too.

Julie said...

Excuse my ignorance but what does ballyhooed mean anyway? It's a funny word, right?

hamilcar barca said...

Loomis got a lot of flak about this being a Da Vinci Code rip-off. he claims he started on the MSS long before Dan Brown's book came out. i tend to believe him.

B&N's sales pitch was to liken this to DVC, and it suckered me in. also i had a B&N "15% off" coupon burning a hole in my pocket. you guys are slick, Barnes & Noble. really slick.

hamilcar barca said...

ballyhooed = sensational or clamorous advertising or publicity. those are Google's words. "hyped" would be my choice.

Julie said...

Found it:

ballyhoo \bal"ly*hoo\ v. t. [imp. & p. p. ballyhooed; p. pr. &
vb. n. ballyhooing.]
to advertize or publicize noisily or blatantly.

hamilcar barca said...

"Ballyhoo" is one of my pet words. So is "brouhaha", "mellifluous", and "sussuration". some words just deserve to be used more. properly or otherwise.
:-)

Julie said...

So, it was ballyhooed by B&N. Yeah, real slick. :(

Julie said...

Pet words are great! Yours are more interesting than mine tend to be.

hamilcar barca said...

Oooo. We should have a collective pet-word posting sometime. everyone to post-and-use five of them. i gotta talk Amanda into hosting this sort of thing.

Julie said...

Sounds great!

Amanda said...

Oh man, I go to bed and the 3 of you spend the night in a comment conversation! It's nice to see one of these again!!

As for the pet word posting...I actually think something like this exists already. I'll have to go look around my book blogging archives...

Lula O said...

My new favorite word is asshat.
asshat, you're an asshat
Just gives me goosebumps.
That and pee-shaw - is that how you spell it? Well, anyway, that's how it sounds.
pee-shaw
pee-shaw
Wee.

Amanda said...

My new favorite word (or is it a phrase?) is "WTFery." As in "Kafka's books are filled with WTFery." :D

Lula O said...

Okay. I don't know what that means, or at least I'm not sure. Is there a swear word involved? Gosh I hope so..

Amanda said...

"wtf" generally stands for "what the fuck," so you can see why WTFery is so cool. :D

Lula O said...

Whew.
Hey, I'm old and don't know this born in the 80's, tweet language!
That is a good one.

hamilcar barca said...

"cacophany". great word. hard to find a place to use it, but it just flows off the tongue.

hamilcar barca said...

and how would you pronounce "WTFery"?

Amanda said...

I'm not sure. You can either say the letters and just say "eff-ery" at the end, or you can just say the words with "fuckery" at the end.

Lula O said...

Sorry, I just wanted to be the 23rd comment.

Lula O said...

Er, now I'm the 23rd comment.
ahem