One thing I’ve loved about blogging is the incredible people that I’ve met along the way. One such person is Mari Passananti, a real-life, published author. It was cool enough personally knowing someone who’s actually published multiple books (it’s possible!), it was even cooler when she offered to send me a proof of her latest book for review. So fun!
The K Street Affair – a legal/spy/financial thriller – was just released (check it out here). This isn’t my usual genre, but I’ve read enough to know that The K Street Affair is not your typical thriller.
Let’s start with the obvious: it’s told from a first-person, present tense point of view, by the main character – a woman. A woman, Lena, who happens to be a lawyer working her ass off at a big law firm. Sweet, I’m sold.
The book starts off a little slower than most thrillers I’ve read (although the action starts right from the beginning), because Mari does something that so many thrillers lack: she sets up actual, believable motivations for her character. This is no hapless professor who stupidly and inexplicably goes along with more and more ridiculous events. (Can you tell I hate Dan Brown?) No, Lena is a fully developed character who has adequate reason to get involved in something way beyond her legal training. And yet, she remains realistically reluctant throughout.
About a third of the way into the novel, something completely unexpected happens (at least I didn’t expect it) and the action skyrockets. From there through the end, it’s non-stop. Mari achieves the ultimate goal of thriller writers: it’s non-put-down-able.
Reading this book after starting my own journey to writing a novel, I couldn’t help thinking about the technical aspects of writing a book that readers can’t put down. Mari does so many things right. She has a character that readers like – Lena is funny, not too perfect, and just self-deprecating enough – in a situation that she can’t get out of, against villains that seem too powerful to overcome. Lena has two goals – one of the patriotic variety and one that’s much more personal and, realistically, much more important to her. And, especially important in the thriller genre, her very life is at risk and things just keep getting worse. Throw in a little romance for good measure and some twists and turns along the way, and you have the recipe for a great book.
But of course, any fool can read a recipe. Not everyone can make a delicious dish out of it. Kudos to Mari for delivering. And thanks for the inspiration!