February 23, 2011

Critic's Garret

Home Invasion by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone. Pinnacle Books, paperback, $6.99.

“People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.”
Book review by Abraham Lincoln

William W. Johnstone, the author of more than 200 books, has previously written series of books relating to the mountain man experience and about the West. Recently, Johnstone has turned to what might be called an “invasion” series focusing on the threats posed by our wide open southern border and feckless politicians. Home Invasion is the most recent of that series.

Set in the fictional west Texas community of Home, the plot revolves around the female chief of Home’s four-officer police force. Johnstone has a feel for the ebb and flow of small town life and his Home characters will feel, well, at home for anyone who has ever lived in a small town. Other characters include a CIA team betrayed by the government, a socialist, egomaniacal President of the United States who hates America (no, that couldn’t sound familiar, could it?), a rogue general appointed to head an internal paramilitary police force, a sort of Praetorian Guard loyal to the POTUS, a secret weapons lab, a slimy defense attorney, Mexican drug gangs, corruption, double crosses, mass disarmament of American citizens, plucky, decent teenagers rising to the occasion, sacrifice and plenty of plot twists.

The 411 page paperback is engaging. Johnstone writes compelling characters, though many of the characters are mere stereotypes, such as the immoral, mercenary lawyer, the dim-wittedly leftist blonde female reporter with the manners and ethics of a rattlesnake, various evil criminals, and of course, a POTUS who bears an uncanny resemblance to the current occupant of the White House.

In many ways, this novel would not have been possible even two years ago. Mark Twain said “fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities, truth isn’t.” Prior to the Obama administration, a novel that took for granted a POTUS who hated Americans and America, who did nothing to protect the southern border, who ignored the Constitution would have been considered too far out to be possible. Now, most readers will find little remarkable about it, and even the evil plot at the heart of the action is barely a stretch. In that regard, some of the characters and some of the several plot twists may seem, particularly to the well informed, predictable, but Johnstone’s dialogue and characterization are obviously practiced, unforced and natural, encouraging the reader to easily and comfortably suspend disbelief.

While some of the characters in the book, particularly the female police chief and the CIA agent she seems destined to take as a love interest, could be spun into sequels, the book doesn’t have that feel. Based only on my reading of this book only--at the request of Mr. Johnstone’s publicist--it appears that contemporary, pertinent political issues are the driver of the series rather than an individual, engaging character such as Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath or Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt, but again, that’s my take based only on this novel.

“Home Invasion” is an enjoyable political thriller, though liberal readers would be well advised to avoid it. They’ll likely suffer near-fatal increases in blood pressure and righteous social justice outrage at situations and possibilities that anyone else would find to be, at the very least, plausible. They may also find themselves astonished at how easy it is to accept plot elements that only a short time ago would have been virtually unimaginable. There’s a lesson in that indeed.

Posted by MikeM at February 23, 2011 11:19 PM

I more or less grew up reading William W. Johnstone starting with the Out of the Ashes series. I love all of his books. He's a lot like Edgar Rice Burroughs but I love him too. Nothing like bad guys getting it in the end.

Just so you know Mr Johnstone died in, I believe, 2006. His nephew J.A. continues to write followups to several of the series started by his uncle.

I'm obsessively buying Lee Child and John Ringo titles right now but I never pass up a Johnstone novel that I haven't read.

Posted by: Pinandpuller at February 24, 2011 01:01 AM