2014-01-07

An American In Lucerne

When I was browsing for a book on the history of Switzerland, I came across this thing: "The Lions of Lucerne" by someone called Brad Thor. Well, I don´t know the thriller genre very well, but it looked like fun. When we were recently in Lucerne, we visited the Löwendenkmal, which is a pretty impressive and poignant monument over the Swiss Guards who were massacred in Paris during the French revolution, defending Louis XVI. It was made by Danish sculptor Berthel Thorvaldsen, whom you might know from his sculpture of Christ, a well known popular image.

Anyway, the back cover of this book promised me a fight on the slopes of mount Pilatus and I imagined a tricky plot with a historical twist involving the Swiss Guards. It started well enough, with a prologue in which the Big Bad Guy invites a couple of Corrupt Senators into his hidden study. Thor makes a point of one of the senators making sure the place is not bugged, while the Big Bad Guy brags about a genuine owned-by-Louis XV-desk he has recently bought from under the nose of the French government and how he has been able to practically mind-read this Swiss mercenary he has hired. Aha! I thought smugly, this is important, I bet that desk is bugged after all and that Big Bad Guy actually sits in the pocket of Top-Lion of Lucerne.

The hero destroys part of 14th Century KapellbrĂĽcke and lands in River Reuss.
But no. This is a standard form 1A thriller - that is, not particularly thrilling at all. It´s like one of those movies you find after midnight at obscure commercial television channels. You have never heard of the actors, who all look like models fitted out by stylists rather than a costume designer. The acting is wooden, the lines awkward, and the plot is simple yet impossible to understand.

Everyone in this novel is beautiful, superstrong, professional, expertly wields any kind of gun, climbs, skiis, does some kind of budo sport, and has the emotional depth of a plastic kiddie pool from Toys´r´us. The hero in particular acts like a 5-year-old´s notion of brave cowboy. And Top-Lion of Lucerne is what a villain must be: stupider than the hero. Which makes him pretty darned stupid indeed.

Spectacular place for a fight.
In spite of this, Thor seems to be an appreciated writer, doing well. Good for him. Perhaps he has written better books since this one, which I believe was his first try. I am not going to find out, though. It´s not really my genre, after all. Or no, I shouldn´t say that. I´ll enjoy any kind of book, well written. Surely it must be possible to write that thriller I was expecting to read. It should be right up Dan Brown´s alley.

I bought the book in paperback, thinking the husband might be interested. When I read this to him:
As the man attacked again, Scot faked left, then spun around hard to his right and plunged the [ski] pole deep into the man´s chest. The knife fell from his hand, and in seconds, blood gurgled out of his mouth, painting his jacket a deep crimson.
"It looks like you got my point," said Scot as he let go of the pole. 
he passed. Oh well.

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