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Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Cogar's Despair by Nate Granzow
As a rule, I try to avoid novels with a reporter protagonist. This is perhaps hypocritical, since my own entry in the Fight Card series, Tomato Can Comeback, is narrated by a reporter. In any case, Grant Cogar is well worth an exception to this rule.
Cogar's Despair is a fast-moving, fun read with some brilliantly developed characters and a plot that is far from predictable. And while it may be fun for the reader, the story is not always fun for Cogar--who is brought to the very brink of, um, despair a couple times. His misfortunes come via a combination of an impulsive nature, friends entangled in some dangerous shenanigans, some terrible (but humorous) luck, and bad guys who are flat-out bad, and proud of it.
I mentioned characters. Where Granzow really nailed it for me is in his hero, Grant Cogar. I like the guy. You will, too. You can't help it. He's somebody we can relate to, yet somebody who winds up taking heroic action when the going gets tough...without trying to be heroic. I'm tempted to compare him with Richard Sharpe from Bernard Cornwell's renowned series, because he's a man of action. But he doesn't necessarily want to be. He's not a super-stud or somebody who aspires to be one...it's more like he's just a loyal friend whose bad luck gives him a break now and then.
And there's a romantic element involving an Australian ice queen. It is handled in a believable fashion which added to the tension, kept me turning pages and, in the end, left me satisfied. In pulling this off, Granzow avoided the cliche`s and formulaic plot devices I've come to dread.
If there is a weakness in this novel, it's isolated to a portion of dialog toward the end between Cogar and his boss which is a bit too on-the-nose for my taste...the skinflint editor grudgingly admitting what an all-around great guy our hero is. It's a hard plot resolution to pull off without grating on me, I'll admit, but I would have liked something more subtle.
In short, folks, this is a very good read. I recommend it with no reservations, and look forward to the forthcoming Cogar's Revolt. If that one flows like this one did, I'll probably become a fan. Check out Nate's website (named after his other novel, which I now must add to my TBR stack) The Scorpion's Nest.