IN THE AIR: DEVLIN
Getting Bored: Me
Devlin is on his way to Edwardsville and the besieged school, and to pass the time we get yet more details about his exhaustive security and secrecy measures. This has the duel effect of being incredibly repetitive and driving home the point that Devlin’s character consists of nothing but cliches, as seen here:
To look at him, you would see exactly what he wanted you to see—nothing.
He was the man who wasn’t there.
Still, Bourne was lucky—he couldn’t remember who he was. Devlin remembered all to well, and it was the toughest thing he did every morning to forget it for one more day.
Devlin’s only other trait is that he’s an arrogant dick.
Early twenty-first-century Boobus Americanus at his finest. Worse dressed than they would have been twenty years ago, stupider, maybe, or at least more ignorant. Forget about getting the Mexicans to speak proper English these days; it was a stroke of pure luck to encounter a twenty-year-old woman who could wrap her lips and tongue around the syllables of the language and pronounce them properly in any place other than her nose.
It’s racist and misogynistic at the same time! Don’t worry, we’ll be seeing worse in just a second.
At least one of Devlin’s assertions here is objectively wrong- rates of education and intelligence measured across pretty much all categories are rising, and have been rising for successive generations for a long time. Right-wing yearning for a lost American golden age relies on the assumption that society today is worse off than it was X number of years ago, that things are getting worse, people are becoming stupider and weaker, crime is on the rise, the moral fabric of society is fraying at the seams. This is not actually true; modern America has problems that America of the past didn’t have, as well as old problems that persist, but in a lot of others ways it’s vastly improved.
The flight attendant gave them the obligatory, insincere welcome to St. Louis, where the local time was whatever.
I think we’re supposed to view Devlin as world-weary and jaded, but instead he just comes across as a moody teenager.
Most of this chapter is taken up with Devlin planning out how he and his yet to be introduced team are going to resolve the situation at the school, which only serves to highlight the wild implausibilities in the plot. Namely, an agent whose existence must be kept secret from everyone but three guys at the top needs to essentially operate like a vigilante or a private mercenary, spending as much time and effort evading the police as the terrorists. When Devlin arrives in St. Louis he steals a car, drives to his destination, then trades it to some drug dealers for an older car. Somehow, this is less likely to draw attention than just taking a taxi.
As it turns out the drug dealers are Urban Youths, which means they… well….
As with every group of young men, there was a Big Dog and a pack. Devlin could always spot the Dawg—the drill sergeant of gangsters, the NCOs of urban crime.
“Yo, check it out,” said the Dawg. “I got smoke, coke, coke, smoke.”
The Urban Youths decide to just take Devlin’s stolen car, which means it’s time for an awesome spy fight!
There was a kind of primitive beauty to every confrontation among men, primates reverting to type. No matter what the PC weenies insisted, might always made right in the end.
Except not, because Devlin uses his superhuman powers of observation to convince them that even though he’s unarmed and massively outnumbered he’ll still win. I’m sure that would totally work in real life.
IN THE AIR: BARTLETT
Still bored: me
Eddie Bartlett (not his real name, remember) is part of Devlin’s backup, and belongs to an organization named Xe. I was not actually aware of this, but Xe was the new name adopted by Blackwater after the old one became too controversial (apparently as of 2011 they’re called Academi).
When he first came to Xe—it was called Blackwater then—
Yes, our hero’s wingman is working with Blackwater. The same Blackwater that’s been accused multiple times of killing civilians in shady circumstances. That Blackwater.
Except for the very odd occasion when he needed a woman for camouflage or misdirection, Eddie Bartlett worked exclusively with men. He was old school that way. No sexual jealousy, no protective empathy. Not that Eddie didn’t have plenty of the latter—as a husband and father, he was a puddle of protective empathy. But when it came to taking care of business, he was all business.
But what if you parachuted some babies onto the battlefield before you went into action? Make some of those maternal superpowers work for you.
Nothing much actually happens in this chapter, Devlin just calls Eddie up and they spit acronyms and military jargon at each other for a while. This book isn’t long, but it spends a lot of time spinning its wheels.