Free, And Still Not Worth It

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Amazon Prime members can read Kindle books for free. The one I’m reading now was advertised as a realistic action thriller, so I thought I’d take a chance. Why not?  It’s free, if I hate it, I just push delete.

I’m three pages in.

Milton, the main character is a British assassin in the James Bond mould.  He has parked his car and walked around to the trunk. Here’s where the story picks up and I quote: “he unfolded the edges of the blanket to uncover the assault rifle that had been left at the Dead Drop the previous night. It was an HK53 carbine with integrated suppressor, the rifle that the SAS often used when stealth was as important as stopping power. Milton lifted the rifle from the boot and pressed a fresh 25 round magazine into the breach. He opened the collapsible stock and took aim, pointing down the middle of the road. Satisfied that the weapon was functioning correctly, he made his way toward the bridge and rested it in the undergrowth, out of sight.”

See?  Total realism.  That’s how you test a rifle. Slam in the mag, fold open the stock, point it down the road. You don’t test-fire it, cycle the action, don’t even look inside the chamber to see if it’s loaded. Apparently, I’ve been doing it wrong all these years and never knew.


Joe Doakes

People who don’t know, or like, or care about guns write about them pretty much the way I write about golf.

(All due respect to the golfers in the audience…)

6 thoughts on “Free, And Still Not Worth It

  1. About the only book where I don’t wince at weapons handling and terminology is the Greenland Diaries, set here in the metro. The hero is pretty much alone and knew nothing about guns. Great. I’m fine with a character that knows nothing about a subject. Its when the character is an “expert” and still knows nothing (or the author knows nothing).

    If I was writing about a subject I was unknowledgable about, I would like to think I’d seek out an expert, rather than look the fool.

  2. wait… your telling me a writer didnt do his research. I’m shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU /sarc

  3. The author forgot to mention that the assault rifle was scary looking, but otherwise checked all the frightening boxes.

    In contrast, author Neal Stephenson (one of my faves), actually hired and credited a “ballistics editor” in writing his book, “REAMDE” to keep all the calibers, capacities and capabilities straight given the multitude of firearms in the story. (It’s a great book, btw.)

  4. oh this guy did his research; he watched movies and cookie cutter police procedurals (Law & Order, etc) and had his character do what he saw “experts” do. At least he called it a magazine not a clip.

  5. The Milton series of books are popcorn reads, and the author acknowledges them as such. He also churns them out, they are diverting, and fun reads – they’ve made the author a rich man.

    The reason Milton wouldn’t bother to check the weapon further, is that in the books backstory there is a competent armorer who has done all of that *including test-firing, sighting, and cleaning the weapon* before leaving the weapon for Milton. (*assuming it is part of the arms system for the British forces*)

    So, there’s a valid reason he might do just what he did in the Milton universe.

  6. jjj – I think I’d still call BS. I can’t see a professional assassin-type going into a mission with a gun he or she hasn’t thoroughly checked out. Oh well, as my English Lit prof used to say, “Verisimilitude is the willingness to believe that all the frogs in the garden are real.”

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