Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Burn Notice - The Giveaway by Tod Goldberg (Burn Notice #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great story with perfectly captured characters and humor
Cons: Not a one
The Bottom Line:
Story is well told
The characters are perfect
Fans will love this book

Don't Giveaway Your Chance to Read This Book

Sometimes, not having time to read a book the instant it comes out can be a good thing.  While I've had Burn Notice: The Giveaway almost since it came out, I finally got a chance to read it this week, right after the summer finale aired.  While I'm still not happy about waiting until November for new episode, this tie in novel was the perfect way to ease my withdrawals.

The series revolves around Michael Westen, a spy fired in the middle of an assignment and dumped in Miami.  As he tries to clear his name, he takes on cases of people in need of help even the police can't provide to pay his bills.

It's never a good thing when Michael's "friend" Barry calls him asking for a favor.  Barry is an expert money launderer, and Michael owes him a favor or twenty.  So it is with some reluctance that Michael takes on the case of Bruce Grossman.

Bruce is a bank robber who did his time.  He's reverted to his old ways in an effort to raise the cash to take care of a mother who is dying of cancer.  But he's robbed the wrong people, specifically the Ghouls, a motorcycle gang.  And the Ghouls are hunting Bruce down to kill him.  Can Michael and his friends find a way to save Bruce?

Since this novel is based on the TV show, I expect it to feel like an episode, and it mostly does.  This book focuses exclusively on trying to save Bruce's life, while an episode of the TV show usually has a secondary story that carries on from episode to episode.  Frankly, with the evolving mythology of the show, it would be almost impossible to craft a "B" story that would work, so I'm glad the author didn't try.

Instead, we get a great story that feels like an extended episode of the show.  The intensity lags a little at times since it's hard to keep up the suspense of the TV show spread out over a 275 page novel, but that wasn't a problem for me.  There were still several nice twists to the story that kept me guessing just how Michael would solve the problem at hand.  I've felt the plots in the first two novels had a hole or two in them, but this time the plot held together completely.

And the characters from the TV show are spot on.  I've got to admit that I didn't have quite the feel for Barry and Michael's brother Nick, both of whom have appeared on the show.  The new characters were believable and felt real to me.  But series regulars Michael, his mom Madeline, Fiona, and Sam were captured perfect.  It didn't take any work at all for me to hear the actors delivering their character's lines.  Frankly, that added to the fun of this book for me.

Speaking of fun, the show also captures the humor of the series.  I laughed at loud multiple times over the course of the book, usually at the banter between characters.

The novel is narrated first person from Michael's point of view.  Since the show uses voice over quite a bit, that's actually a tall order.  Yet it works perfectly.  All the narration sounds like Michael's voice overs in the show.  Basically, this book can never break characters once, and it works.  A few chapters are third person from another character's point of view, but it is always easy to tell whose point of view we are following.

While being a fan of the TV show certainly helps, there is just enough background given that I think anyone looking for a fun book will enjoy the story.

Burn Notice fans rejoice.  This novel is the perfect way to distract yourself while waiting for a new episode.  You'll enjoy every page of The Giveaway.  And if you aren't familiar with the series, this might hook you on it.

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