Let’s Read Hostile Intent ch. 53-54

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Devlin enters a super-duper top secret facility under the pentagon or something (I may have skimmed parts of this chapter) to meet with the Secretary of Defence, who you may remember is the third person aware of Devlin’s existence.

As per his usual habit, Devlin starts out rude and arrogant to this man who could easily have him killed and who is currently questioning him over the deaths of three FBI agents. Then Devlin threatens to kill him, then he slaps him. Because this is a shallow power fantasy about Real Americans showing those capital hill pansies what’s what.

Devlin insists that someone has penetrated their defences and sent those FBI agents to his house, the secretary of defence insists it was Hartley and since he’s dead it’s not a problem any more, blah blah blah.

Okay then Seelya comes in and we get a gigantic clumsy infodump of backstory explaining why Skorzeny wants Devlin dead, but basically: Seelye was working with Devlin’s parents and also Skorzeny to take down a notorious terrorist, but it turned out Skorzeny was a double agent who sold his services to a loosely affiliated “terror network” comprised of basically every terrorist group active in Europe and the middle east at the time (there is a bit of truth to this idea, in that some terrorist groups with no obvious ideological links have traded weapons and training they couldn’t get through any other sources, but Walsh elevates the idea to James Bond levels of cartoonishnes here). Devlin asserts (and Seelye denies) that once Skorzeny’s treachery was uncovered Seelye arranged for Devlin’s parents to be murdered in order to cover up his mistake in trusting Skorzeny. Ever since then Skorzeny has wanted to kill Devlin because…. I’m actually not sure. I’m pretty sure a reason is stated either in this chapter or later, but the plot has devolved into absolute bullshit and I’m having trouble remembering anything.

If there had been a clock on the mantle, they could have heard it ticking in the silence that followed. But nobody had ticking clocks any more.

Shades of the good old Kingkiller Chronicle and its sounds that would have sounded a particular way if there were sounds that sounded like that present. Sometimes, after all the books we’ve discovered together since finishing Wise Man’s Fear, I really miss Rothfuss’ particular brand of bad writing.

For some reason, Charles sent Devlin an encrypted file letting him know that Skorzeny is planning on using an EMP weapon, and Devlin guesses that the weapon is on board the Clara Vallis, which will pull into port in less than a day.

Seelye lunged for the secure phone. “We’ll blow her out of the water right—” Devlin grabbed the phone and set it back in its cradle. “No. Leave her alone. Start circling her now and she’ll get that bird in the air.

I am fairly certain that somewhere in the US army’s considerable arsenal, there is at least one weapon capable of damaging the ship badly enough that the EMP would be rendered inoperable. And if they do launch it, it’s a weather balloon that needs to reach the ionosphere to function (this has been stated explicitly in an earlier chapter), they’d have ample time to just shoot the damn thing down.

Devlin spouts a lot of confusing cliches (sample: “So I want carte blanche, no questions asked. I want what I want and I want what I need and I want what I don’t know about yet and I want it all yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”) but the upshot is that he’s going to kill Charles in London, and also the secretary of defence has to lift his arbitrarily imposed death sentence.

After he’d left, Rubin looked at Seelye with a mixture of contempt, disappointment, and disgust. “Why didn’t you tell him?” he asked. “Tell him what?”

“That there is no death sentence. That there is no other member of Branch 4. That, in fact, he is Branch 4.”

“It’s on a need-to-know basis,” said Seelye. “And he doesn’t need to know. Not now, maybe not ever.”

DUN DUN DUUUN yeah I already spoiled this for you all earlier, because the “twist” is telegraphed so obviously in advance.

It’s now time for DAY SEVEN, which is the last day. We’re 90% of the way through the book now, rapidly approaching the finale. Am I ruining anything by telling you in advance that it plays out more or less exactly how you think it will?

Emanuel Skorzeny drank deeply of the air.

“Emanuel Skorzeny breathed”

This was not his favorite part of France—except for the champagne, it was nobody’s—but if he closed his eyes and projected himself back a millennium, he could appreciate what its Cistercian founders might have seen in it.

Walsh doesn’t seem to be able to comprehend the idea of people who live in other countries and are also happy, so he just has them constantly thinking about the past, when everything didn’t suck.

Actually that’s pretty much how his fictional Americans act as well, so I guess he’s just being consistent.

Pretty much all that happens in this chapter is that Skorezeny rambles on for an extremely long time, then slips Amanda Harrington a drug that knocks her unconscious, his paranoia about her working with Charles fully taking control. Then he goes to meet the terrorist dude mentioned in the previous chapter, who is now in prison. The plot thickens, and becomes increasingly confusing.

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7 thoughts on “Let’s Read Hostile Intent ch. 53-54

  1. andrea harris

    “But nobody had ticking clocks any more.”

    Wha-? Of course people still have ticking clocks. I have one hanging on the wall behind me, I bought it at Target a few years ago. And you can still buy new ones, and then there are the antique clocks which lots of people have, because why would you get rid of a valuable object or even a worthless yet beloved heirloom, or for fucks’ sakes, what is he talking about, he might as well say “all forks are plastic now” because plastic forks are more modern than metal ones.

    Stupid little things like that irritate me.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Let’s Read Hostile Intent [end] | Doing In The Wizard

  3. Elspeth Grey

    Overcomplication is the main reason I decided to stick to movie thrillers and not bother with books. I’ve read a few thrillers based on the strengths of their movies, and ended up massively disappointed. Thriller writers seem to think they need to constantly vary up the characters, the motivations, or even the basic premise of the plot, which just takes away any tension because everything is so spread out and what are you supposed to care about again? The fact that movies will cut out a lot of plot elements actually HELPS, because in order for there to be tension the story needs to be focused and the stakes have to be clear.

    Reply
  4. Signatus

    I’m getting increasingly confused by this book. I’m unsure whether it is because I’m not reading it and only following it through the LR, or because it is truly a confusing and chaotic thing, which I find more likely.

    What is it with fiction authors and their love for making complex, unbelievable plots? In real life, the more complicated a conspiracy is, the more likely it is to fail at some point. You can’t possibly control all variables. Humans don’t work like that.

    Reply
      1. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

        Complex plots, like books that are over 1000 pages, are all part of the trend of terrible writers thinking that if less is more, then more is even more, and the more writing you do the better (see NaNoWriMo). The more moving parts in a book the better, even if they serve no purpose or make no sense.

        Reply
  5. Pingback: Let’s Read Hostile Intent ch. 50-52 | Doing In The Wizard

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