Often times it is fun to watch as an author progresses in their craft – but then again sometimes when you enjoy an author and go back to read one of their earlier works, you are glad they have come as far as they have. “Avery Dick Walks Small” is one of the first novels following our illustrious intelligence agent, and sadly it does not have the polish or punch that the later novel has. The writing style is good enough, with interesting characters – however the reader gets bogged down with bad puns and wordplay that moves the story nowhere. Readers of “Secret Agent” novels generally like suspense, action, and a quickly paced plot. In this particular novel the plot involves the kidnapping of two young women who just happen to be the daughters of some very high ranking political figures. This should play out as a very exciting save the girl type caper – however with the book only being 176 pages long, it is almost a crime in itself that very little happens until page 85. The book bogs down in its own wordplay and “setup.” When we finally get to the excitement, though it is well written, it is sparse and too little payoff for the amount of buildup. Perhaps it is simply the main character, who chooses to downplay the experience, but in the end the reader doesn’t get the excitement they so desperately crave – the tense nail biting shootouts, the extended chase scenes where someone with a baby buggy unwittingly walks out of an alley and allows the bad guy to get away so that the giant coup-de-gras ending can occur, the big showdown. Sadly that never happens and the reader is simply left with a novel of wordplay, unbelievable sexual situations, and a feeling that what they read was just a big inside joke that they will never be given the punch-line to.
As negative as all of this sounds – this is only the second novel by this author and he is progressing quickly in his craft. I would keep my eye on him as his follow up to this one “Dick Goes to the Bank” is a much stronger entry in the cannon.
Rated R for profanity and sex.