Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Review of "Beat" [88]

Beat by Stephen Jay Schwartz
Forge Books, ISBN 978-0765322951
September 28, 2010, 336 pages

Hayden Glass is a decorated LAPD robbery-homicide detective. He is also out on medical leave at the moment, for at least two reasons..his out of control sex addiction and the fact that he torn a man to pieces. A very bad man, but still.
"He'd been on medical leave for two months. The LAPD didn't know what to do with him after he killed Tyler Apollyon, one of the most ruthless sexual predators in L.A.'s history. If it had been a single shot fired from his service automatic, things might have been different. But Hayden had mutilated the guy. Literally torn him apart with his bare hands after trying to save the one woman he'd finally come to love."
So, he sits home and attends his Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings as ordered, but soon the voice of Rufus, as he calls the sex addicted voice in his brain, is again calling to him. Before long, Hayden is on the internet, looking for satisfaction. He meets a hooker in an on-line video chat room but as things escalate, as he believes he is falling 'in love' with her, he finds himself driving to San Francisco to meet the woman in person, spending every dollar he can get his hands on to pay to be with her. Then things take a violent and horrible turn. Two men break into the hotel room where Hayden and the hooker are 'meeting', beat Hayden terribly, steal his gun and badge and drag the girl out. Before Hayden knows what has happened, as he searches for her, he finds himself in the middle of a powerful and evil sex slave ring run by the Russian mob, protected by corrupt elements in the police department and under investigation by the FBI. Oh, what Hayden will do for "love".

First, yet me just say that this is perhaps the most un-Christmasy book I have read this year. Even if you want to pick it up, wait until after the holiday season, really.
This book is graphic, in matters of sex and in matters of violence. Quite honestly, violence in books rarely bothers me but this about reached my limit. The graphic nature of the sex was just rather creepy.

So, did I hate this book, did I dislike it? Well, no, not totally, which really says something for the rest of the book. It is a good story, with some great characters, a great setting and some good twists and turns. Personally, I think if the violence and sex had been turned down a bit, it would have been a better book. It certainly would have been one I liked more.
But the real issue for me is the character of Hayden. Yes, I get the whole anti-hero thing, but really, he is a very unlikable man. I have an issue with the whole idea of sexual addiction but his lack of ability to control himself, no matter what the consequences, just gets annoying and distasteful. He wants to paint these people in the sex trade as so very bad, so very evil, and yet he and people like him are the very reason that the business exists. But that is different in his mind..because he is an addict. Even when he finds out how very young his on-line 'girlfriend' is. Please...

A good story, a well written thriller, wrapped in a rather distasteful and troubling wrapper.

My thanks to Library Thing Early Reviewers for a copy of this book


  1. A protagonist that is a sex addict? OMG. There are anti-heroes, and then there are creeps. Jack Reacher is an anti-hero. Lucas Davenport is an anti-hero. I love my literary guys damaged, but this is just a bit over the top!


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