The last Demille book I had read was THE LION. And, I couldn’t wait to get it off my back. It was that bad. So, it was with great reluctance that I picked up the WORD OF HONOR. Reluctance because it was written by Demille, and THE LION was still chasing me. And, secondly the book was blurb-ed as a courtroom drama, with a Vietnam connection and it was 700 pages long. Long books with Nam connection makes me weary. They tend to go the Clichéd Street with half drunken genius protagonists and beautiful agents to rescue them from self destruction. And my single encounter with a John Grisham legal thriller didn’t turn out good.
But, within the first 50 pages my fears were laid to rest, as the book hit the gas right away. The plot never did slow down, and for a 700 page LONG book it’s a commendable job. Demille’s UP COUNTRY was long too and I loved it, but even that book had around 50 pages which could have been skipped without missing much on the plot. But, this book was free of any such “skip worthy” pages. The book was taut with little room for boredom. Even the courtroom scenes laced with legal jargon was fast and was written in a style where the legal jargon which important but without any thrill was alternated with highly charged witness dialogues which were an integral part of the plot and were “entertaining” to read. But, mostly what grabbed my attention was that the book never slowed down for once even. The whole thing just breezed past, without a moment to consider whether the book was getting too slow to be marked as “READ-LATER”.
And lastly the characters. Ben Tyson irritated me. With his chivalrous attitude, a BIG ego and confused relation with his wife was not someone to look up to. But that’s why this book was a success, because in reality if someone is faced with a similar situation that person would turn into a confused person irritating everyone. Marcy Tyson, was confused too and she too turned out to be a real character. The point is has these people been shown as someone who is taking the whole thing very sportingly, or “Who gives a F***” attitude the book would have seemed unreal though the characters might have been more tolerable, but the book would have turned into a fantasy. But the real hero of the book was Vincent Corva. With his attitude, his courtroom skills, and his ability in turning up with a key witness made him overshadow Ben Tyson in every department.
P.S. Had Tyson been a bit less egotistic and practical and signed the papers given to him by Chet Brown, this book could have been over in 100 odd pages. But, practical and sane men have never been the subject of a popular novel. Thanks to Ben Tyson’s ego we got to read a book that was highly entertaining.