Thursday, March 18, 2010

a review of "The Khan Dilemma" [18]

The Khan Dilemma by Ron Goodreau
(iUniverse, ISBN 978-4401-5123-1)

It starts as a routine crime in Las Cruces, California. A young Muslim man is apprehended by a neighbor after having killed two residents of a house. The police, in the person of the quite distasteful Detective Dale Cox, seem willing to accept the crime as a break in and robbery and charge the young man, Khan, as soon as he is out of the coma the neighbor's sap put him in. But it seems things are not so simple, as the two sinister FBI agents sitting in the car outside the house make clear. For reasons that neither Cox nor the corrupt DA Rich Danko really are told much about, the FBI make clear that it is a matter of national security that Khan quickly and quietly be found guilty. And while they may not know why, each, for their own reasons, is willing to go along with the wishes of the FBI.

Danko is smart enough to sense a political hot potato and brings his personal nemesis and possible political rival, Max Siegel, out of exile to handle the case. But as Max starts to investigate, he soon realizes that the case is not the simple break in that the police claim it is. He also realizes that forces reaching high up into the government do not really want this the truth of what happened in this case to be known and will go to very extreme lengths to see that it is not. But Max is a man of principles and one tough dude and a frame up or two will not stop him. He will find out the truth, even though it is not only his career that is in jeopardy, but his very life and the lives of those he cares about and the lives of those helping him on the investigation.

The author, Ron Goodreau is, according to the publicity info I received with the book, “a deputy district attorney in California, presently living in Sacramento. He is an Air Force veteran with degrees in government and law”, which all sounds very promising. I wish I could say I felt that promise had been fulfilled in this book, but I don't. If you go to Amazon, you will read some very good reviews of this book, which made me hopeful. I wish I could agree with them, but I can't. Let me give a few reasons why.

The basic premise of the story is not bad and is certainly timely. But it just goes too, too far. Over the top far. The Bad People are very bad and the Good People are very good and everything is very black and white. For example, Detective Cox is bad, so not only is he a crooked cop but he is rather stupid and boorish, with a filthy apartment and bad personal hygiene. It seems bad guys do not bathe. The FBI agents are so evil they are almost like villains in a cartoon. The plot...just goes from interesting as the book begins to the totally beyond belief by the end. Squads of hit men on rooftops? FBI agent snipers...really? I, for one, was not at all sold.

But personally for me, the most annoying problem was the dialog. Most of the book, with the exception of a number of editing errors, is pretty well written, but often the dialog is very awkward and not at all natural sounding. That is something I find particular grating in a book and something that might have been corrected with more careful editing.
From the few reviews out there, it seems once again I am in a minority on this one, but I am sorry to say that this is not a book I could recommend.

My thanks to Jocelyn Kelley at Kelley and Hall for my copy of this book.


  1. I haven't read this one, but I can assure you with about a 90% degree certainty, that I would be in the same boat with you. I am particularly tough on crime and mystery fiction. I have a penchant for good guys that are damaged and flawed, personally. Nothing is ever black and white in reality. I also want the unexpected, clever dialogue, and decent character development. Thanks for the honest review!

  2. I don't think this is for me either. I like great dialogue and even when the plot is a little far-fetched, I want the characters to be believable.


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