Review: The Execution by Dick Wolf

ExecutionLike its predecessor, THE EXECUTION demonstrates Dick Wolf’s ability to craft a tightly-plotted, page-turning thriller – but it lacks the panache necessary to propel it above its ilk. A word of caution to the uninitiated reader: events here follow on directly from THE INTERCEPT – so if you haven’t read that, prepare to have the climax spoiled.

THE EXECUTION’s narrative unfolds methodically, following two parallel investigations that eventually coalesce – one lead by Mexican intelligence agent Cecelia Garza, another by Jeremy Fisk of the NYPD’s intel division. It begins with twenty-three beheaded bodies discovered on the US border – a methodology synonymous with the infamous assassin Chuparosa – and it’s soon revealed he might be planning to make a move against the Mexican President during United Nations Week in Manhattan. Fisk and Garza – adversaries at first – must overcome their differences and work together to stop Chuparosa’s plot. The novel features all the tropes of fashionable thrillers; snappy dialogue, short chapters, relentless pace. Thematically, it’s about revenge, and the various forms it can take – but thankfully Wolf’s prose doesn’t become too heavy-handed as he delves into its morality.

THE EXECUTION is a run-of-the-mill thriller, ultimately saved from mediocrity by its two climactic plot twists. Just like his first novel, THE EXECUTION left me wondering where Fisk’s story might go next. So despite my reservations, Wolf’s hooked me in for his third. He’s got all the ingredients to be a grandmaster of the genre; it’s surely only a matter of time until he fashions a masterwork.

One thought on “Review: The Execution by Dick Wolf

  1. I kept writing and delteing comments. I think the problem is our perspectives may be different. I think it’s easier for me to ask questions: a) what is mainstream’? And whose? The U.S. market or the Scandinavian market? Or the world’s? There seems an assumption throughout your post that an non-American author’s changing editorial direction is due to the success and, subsequently, demands of the U.S. market. What evidence do you have to back that up? I do believe some non-American authors had altered the direction and style of their series to suit American market, so I don’t disagree with your main point. But I don’t agree that that is always the case for all non-American authors as, for some, the US is not the centre of their world; nor is breaking into the US market their ultimate goal. b) The crux of my problem: I dislike when good writers are discovered for their originality and then when they are introduced to a new audience they no longer provide that something special that made them a hit in the first place. Or could it be that readers are becoming so familiar with the style and tropes of for instance Scandinavian genre fiction that the novelty or originality’ wears off? How do you determine the difference between commercialism and familiarity/expectations? I mean, I see this often with English readers of Japanese fiction (and comics). They would laud about Japanese novelists’ originality and fresh takes on cliches. Then after being increasingly exposed to those bodies of works, they would bitch about how westernised or Americanised those novelists’ writing become when in fact, it’s always been there. Japanese author Otsuichi’s body of works is a mixture of philosophical crime novels with no acts of violence, SF thrillers, children’s fantasy novels, action-driven crime novels (with extreme violent acts and occasionally gory), family drama and romantic mysteries. The first to be translated and published as a horror novel in the US is his SF novel. The second was a philosophical crime novel. And the third was a crime novel with gory scenes. It’s at that point when US critics and readers complained the author was becoming westernised , but that novel was published long before the first English-translated novel so how can it be westernised ? (I also wondered, when reading those comments, since when violence was a western thing?) To be fair, some do eventually realise that some aspects of international fiction and publishing are truly universal, which are something no novelist could avoid. Especially for those with ongoing series. By that, I mean all authors regardless of nationality tend to dehumanise their major characters because they continually push boundaries to keep their ongoing series fresh .c) Is there truly an expectation from the American market for crime fiction to have violence, improbable action scenes and gore with villains? How do you explain for instance some Australian, Japanese and French crime fiction that have similar violence and gore like some American crime fiction if not more?d) In Nesbo’s case, how can he believe his own hype when all were published in the US are not in accordance with the original published years in his country? Let’s face it Nesbo didn’t become popular until when his third English translated novel Nemesis was published in 2008 (originally published in 2002). So, am I’m wondering how can his 2007 book The Snowman and his 2009 book The Leopard be a result of his response to the US market’s demands when he didn’t catch the U.S.’s attention until 2008-2009? A chance of Nesbo believing his hype in his own country may be there as it could explain those chances, but do we know what Norwegian crime readers really think of his books or how well his books are selling in his native country? I don’t know. Do you? Gah. Sorry that it’s long and all over the place. You still love me, right?

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