Saturday, March 1, 2014

Frayed Tapestry

There's nothing worse, if you ask me, that loose threads in your story. I'm willing to accept most any premise an author is willing to throw out there, but miracles I'm not so easy with, not when they happen over and over.

I'm reading an investigative story at the moment and I don't really know too much about investigation procedures so when the writer has their FBI agent throw the people from two different crimes together for convenience, I'll roll with it no matter how out of character I find it.

There are smaller details in this story that are irritating but I'll cut to the bigger ones.

We have one FBI agent who is supposed to be afraid of water but recovering (shoulda left that detail out), one marine biology student whose boss was murdered while he was on the bottom of the ocean looking for the man's wedding ring, and a brother and sister looking for their very rich scientist father. They were thrown together because the father went missing in the same location as the murder even though the two crimes happened months apart.

The agent allows for the siblings to pay to go find whatever the diver's boss was killed for just cause they're curious. Well, okay. I understand that these two parties need to be thrown together, but this is kinda lame. Anyway, they find the thing and it's not a ring, it's a flash drive in a water tight container weighted with fishing lead. Now this is the crucial link between the two cases so fine, but it's still a frayed end as you'll see.

A little while later, these four people have found the missing father's yacht. While the sister and the student and the agent are searching the boat, the brother is left with the rental. Supposedly, he falls asleep and the boat drifts away and quite some ways down stream, past a town (seen by no one though those playing on the water are many) to lodge in the bushes on the far bank - at least that's his story and he sticks to it, and it isn't refuted anywhere I've found so far, so okay, fine. Meanwhile, the other three are stranded upriver. Now the water's not deep where they are; the boat they were searching was sunk but not submerged, so they need to jump into the water and wade to shore (remember the agent's fear of water). Fine, but they go upriver, away from where they need to go to find help. They're on the wrong side of the river from the town, but still, all the people are down river; only the occasional sightseer (like they were pretending to be) goes as far up river as they went. CONVENIENTLY they find some innertubes. I simply cannot come up with any logical reason for perfectly good innertubes to be located in the jungle off the river. How did they get there? If someone took them up there to ride down the river, where are those people now? And most troubling, if those mysterious people only just took those innertubes up there and decided to walk upriver before their float down, now that our people have stolen them, how are they going to get down? No other people were ever mentioned so this is just a convenient piece of equipment miraculously dropped into their path so they could go find the brother and their boat. This little bit of scenario simply makes no sense.

Moving on in the story and inserting the kidnapped father:

It was given early on that he knows how to insert information into the junk DNA of cells - fine, he uses it to copyright cells he finds - it is also given that his daughter, who followed in his footsteps, knows about this - also fine - What was on the flash drive was the key to decoding whatever message he used - fine - that gave them the clue as to where to find the sunken ship - fine - BUT in the story, he has freedom enough to toss the flash drive in it's sealed box, but doesn't weight it down to sink so it is recovered, and some of his freedoms are curtailed. I'm three quarters of the way through the book and I've seen nowhere where he was able to make that drop, and no mention of it has been made. Maybe these loose ends will finally be explained when they finally get to talk to him, but until then, this is really annoying me.

Another loose thread: Remember the search of the sunken ship? They happened to find a jar of ocean water in the submerged lab, and from that DNA sample they learned the name of the ship where the father was being held. Maybe we'll find out how he left that message later too.

Later, the father makes a big escape by using chemicals found in his lab to create an explosion and blow his way through the wall - fine - labs use all kinds of caustic materials that can be flammable and explosive, enough so? I don't know but I'll accept that he was able to accomplish the deed. So he's this marathon swimmer (keep in mind that he has two grown kids, one of which is a successful scientist in her own right. The other, married and divorced and not so ambitious, but I'll allow that though he sits at a microscope every day all day, he stays in shape). He swims the mile (every time someone has to swim to shore, it's a mile, and remember the agent, her too) to shore with a pair of scissors in his waistband - fine. He beats two guys on a three-man jet-ski and reaches another wreck near the end of a beach full of summer tourists and swimmers who ignore the scenario - a bit of a stretch, but fine. One of the chasers goes into the wreck after the father and they tussle. The father wins - it could happen. The second guy leaves his jet-ski and comes after the first guy. Meanwhile, to escape, the father climbs farther into the wreck and finds a hole he can climb out of - fine - he snags the now riderless vehicle and makes a mad dash for population and supposedly safety. He guns the machine onto the beach, and thanks to an incoming wave, is carried a mite farther than he'd planned. A couple convenient surfboards leaning in the right place offer his out-of-control projectile a launching platform that throws him onto a road where he clips a biker and is clipped in turn by a truck. He is, of course, thrown free. (just like in the movies) - all fine so far - BUT a man rushes up, yelling that he's a doctor and the father passes out - - - and wakes up back on the ship where he has been being held prisoner for the last few months. So how did that guy get there so fast if he'd left everyone behind?

Back to our group of people trying to follow the father's DNA leads that seem to drop out of nowhere. An hour after all this has transpired, our agent hears about police investigating a disturbance at the beach (no mention of what happened on the highway). Apparently tourists reported an explosion on a boat that was no longer there, so on a whim, they go have a look at the wreck where the father fought the one chaser. By the time they get there, the police have left. I can see no reason why they would want to investigate that wreck since they were only in that location to refuel their plane - see they were flying around looking for a suitably sized boat with the name left on the DNA found in the jar on board the father's sunken ship. Now, they do find the scissors which is fine, but they also find two test-tubes full of water, presumably another clue left by the father for his daughter, only he has no way of knowing they are even looking for him, not to mention the fact that, there is no mention of him packing said test-tubes, and have you ever seen one of those things? They are incredibly fragile. You have a man swimming and stumbling across coral and sand (with no pockets) and wrestling with a guy with a gun. Later cops have apparently tramped all over the place and a tiny glass tube with a cork would be very nearly invisible under water if it was filled with water. How did these things survive? How did they get there?  

I don't know, maybe it'll all be explained but right now, three quarters of the way through the book, there's just WAY too many loose ends and miraculously found bits of information. This story could have been so much better if other choices could have been made.


1 comment:

William Kendall said...

Yes, those rate as too many loose threads. It would get to bother me.