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Review: “Colored Floodlights” by Frank Drury

Title: Colored Floodlights
Author: Frank Drury
Rating: ***
Publisher/Copyright: CreateSpace, 2012

I received my copy of the book through the Goodreads FirstReads program, which I highly recommend! (I think I have to say that for legal reasons) This book, however…I didn’t find it all that fascinating. I’ll admit that this isn’t really the kind of book I usually read (It isn’t quite what I expected when I signed up for the giveaway–see below for that explanation), and I’m sure there are those out there who will enjoy it, but it wasn’t for me. I go more for adventure in my books–mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, anything with an adventure in it–so this milder fare just didn’t really push my buttons. Or at least not the right ones….

I expected that the blurb (go read it if you want, I won’t reproduce it here) described the first fifty to a hundred pages, then Roy would have a PTSD attack, First Blood-style, and the rest would be the various characters dealing with that. THAT I would have found interesting. Instead, the incident mentioned (misleadingly, I might add) in the blurb is about twenty pages from the end, if that. I also expected Roy to be the main character, but he was more the secondary protagonist. The result seems a little bit aimless, in that there’s no central conflict driving the plot forward. I realize its a character-driven work, and I have to admit that all the characters are well-developed and distinct, but I still just wasn’t engaged.

Parker Boyce is a psychologist who specializes in PTSD after dealing with himself after Gulf War I. Roy Calhoun is back in the states after three tours in Afghanistan and having trouble dealing with his PTSD. As he treats Roy, Parker begins to take him on as a special project–getting him into classes at a local community college, hiring him as a gardner/caretaker, etc. This relationship formes most of the plot. In addition, there is Parker’s wife Katrina, who is cheating on him with a local detective (that’s not a spoiler–that gets off the ground right away); her sister Roberta, who takes instantly both to Roy and to the Occupy movement, leading to the climactic incident; and Parker’s mother Virginia or “Ginny,” who spends her evenings searching for dates online.

I really liked Ginny most of the way through the book. She’s funny and at least moderately conservative in her politics, which makes her stand out from the other characters who all tend left of center. I actually pictured the actress who plays Nathan Fillion’s mother on the TV show Castle. She gets abrasive at the end though, and while I don’t disagree with much of what she says, she’s not very nice about it. Roy is a sympathetic character, and you do get involved with him and his struggles. Parker is also a good guy, and you can tell he’s trying to do the right thing most of the time. He’s a liberal, but not obnoxious about it. Roberta is nice enough, and you are supposed to sympathize with her, but she dives headlong into the Occupy movement without really knowing anything about it, taking Roy to his doom. Katrina…..well, let’s just say that if you are going to have a character cheat on her husband while he is lying in the hospital, you are going to have to work extra hard to make me like this character. The author doesn’t, so I rather dislike her character quite a bit.

This is a novel very rooted in current events, especially the Occupy movement. I have no problem with that, per se, but as someone who identifies somewhere between the mainline GOP and the Tea Party I was annoyed by the pro-Occupy slant. I’m not saying that this in any way diminishes the quality of the book, but it did diminish my enjoyment of it. Its well-written, but its not a book for me. I’ll see if I can pass my copy on to someone who will enjoy it more…..

Content-wise, I’m calling this PG-13 to R. Language was not over the top, but there were a few F-bombs. There was some sexual material, not too explicit. Some violence, especially in flashbacks. Not too gory, aside from one flashback to an IED explosion.

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