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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Aim Big, Miss Big: The Shot by Phillip Kerr

Welcome back to Audio Book Theater. (Whatever will I do when I no longer pass by the library in my work travels? Guess I'll have to turn to my backlog of Audible Audio books on my Kindle--though the volume doesn't go loud enough for my beat-up ears when there's road noise to compete with.)

This book had a back cover blurb that piqued my interest. That's the purpose of a blurb, but it's still kinda' rare these days to find one that actually works. The plot had to do with an assassin who decides to go after JFK.

Now, I'm not someone who believes the "lone nut" official stories about such things, and I am especially resistant to the story that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Neither do I believe JFK was greased by a bunch of rabid right-wingers angry about the Bay of Pigs. But there's a lot of unanswered questions about the assassination and the incidents surrounding it, which could make for some fascinating conjectures in the form of a novel.

Kerr got off on the wrong foot with me because he either doesn't know there's a difference between the US Army and the Marine Corps, or he couldn't make up his mind which one the hit man Tom Jefferson came from. It doesn't require a whole lot of research to figure out that the two branches of service are not one and the same, so his use of them interchangeably speaks volumes about how little he knows and how little homework he did.

Another sore spot for me, which other authors have also rubbed, is Kerr's assumption that a sniper can take a rifle out of a box and go right to work with it without ever zeroing the sights.

There were some plot twists in The Shot, but I saw a lot of them coming a mile away. Another mark against the book is the lack of one single character who I liked.


And finally, the big personal disappointment: It turns out the book is not about the assassination in Dallas in 1963, but about an elaborate threat staged prior to Kennedy's inauguration. Hints were dropped that the characters of the story would later carry out the actual assassination, but I had hoped the author would have the cojones to just fill in the gaps of the the JFK puzzle with some plausible theories (BTW, I was disappointed with the puzzle-assembly Oliver Stone attempted in his film, too).

For me, this book was a fail on pretty much every level. The reader doesn't even get a transcript of the Jack & Marylin tapes, which would have at least amped up one of the few interesting aspects of the story..


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