Infinity Publishing, $17.95, ISBN 978-0-7414-4910-8
It is very easy to guess what Bill Binkley’s al-Qaeda Strikes Again is all about judging from the title alone – watch out, America, they’re back, that kind of thing – but while suffering through the first 100 pages of this book, I would have absolutely no clue where this story is heading if I didn’t know the title of the book or haven’t read the synopsis in the back cover. That is how shockingly bad this book is.
It’s not that I have fun ripping apart this book, mind you. After reading the first few dozens of pages, I actually put this book down to look up the author’s website, compelled by a desire to find out why such a book can get published in its current embarrassing condition. I learn that the author is a retired fellow who had enthusiastically conducted interviews with the right people to get his story right. Unfortunately, this is a case where the author’s enthusiasm for his writing far exceeds his ability.
In this one, we have al-Qaeda folks planning to commit an even larger act of terrorism in America, and it is only through a fortunate sequence of events that the Terrorism Task Force manages to discover this foul plan. The Task Force Leader, Wayne Kirby, and his love interest, Rennie Jordan, find themselves racing against time to put down those bastards for good.
Way too many aspects of the plot are not good. For example, Rennie is described as “Rambo-like” in the story but she is actually a standard damsel in distress, always “overwhelmed by fear” when she’s not screaming and failing to get away from the bad guys. She and Wayne are flat one-dimensional characters, with very little depths to separate them from paper cutouts. Meanwhile, the terrorists behave as if they have graduated from the Boris and Natasha School of Inept Moronic Villainy. Not that the good guys are any smarter. I still shudder when I think of that scene where an undercover operative informs a woman he is dating for the first time of his actual job.
But the biggest problem is the author’s writing. Every conceivable problem you can imagine, from too much telling to too much repetitive scenes to too many plodding scenes focused on minute details that add nothing to the story to… well, everything, is present here. Wrong words are used (officers receiving “accommodation” from their superiors for their good work, for example) and odd uses of punctuation marks are present. The author’s use of descriptive phrases can get very banal and even insipid at times. Bad guys are “evil looking”. They have “high-pitched voices”. They say unintentionally hilarious things like, “She must be upstairs. Let’s rape her before we chop her into little pieces!” The portrayal of the bad guys can get pretty racist at times, with characters being pointed out as evil just because they are Muslims, with very little effort made to establish their villainy beyond their skin color and religion. This book is a desperate SOS cry for an editor.
al-Qaeda Strikes Again, alas, is more like, oops, a stereotypical example of a badly self-published effort has struck again.