by Dick Wolf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dick Wolf, legendary TV producer of crime dramas like Miami Vice and the Law and Order franchise, makes his literary debut with The Intercept (William Morrow 2012). It is a high-concept thriller that will keep your brain churning, your mind guessing, and your fingers turning pages. Jeremy Fisk (an officer in NYPD’s intelligence-gathering arm) and his partner Krina Gersten help to debrief a would-be hijacker’s foiled attempt to crash a plane into New York’s Freedom Tower (now known as One World Trade Center). But where the FBI and other involved agencies are satisfied that the plot is ended, Fisk and Gersten believe the hijacking was merely a cog in a much larger engine, one that will reveal itself on July 4th, just days away.
I was of two minds before I read this book. On one hand, Wolf’s iconic Law And Order took an extreme leftward tilt years ago which drove me away (one my liberal friends probably see as realistic rather than extreme. I’m fine with that.). On the other mind, Jeremy Fisk–the protagonist of this story, is advertised as ‘a rule breaker with a sharp mind and flawless instincts’. What could be more appealing in a police drama character? Having read the story, I’ll read more. The plot is tightly woven, demands attention from the reader, and takes enough twists and turns I never think I’ve figured out what’s going to happen.
One writing strategy Wolf will probably change in future books: While there are many parts of screenwriting (such as for L&O) and novel writing that are the same, characterization is handled differently. In novels, we want to get to know the people who are making the action happen, get in their heads and see the world through their eyes, find out what motivates them so we can feel comfortable in the actions they take. Because a TV series is many novelettes played out over multiple months, character information can dribbled out little by little, and the viewer gets to know the main characters via many plot climaxes and lots of action. Wolf employed a TV series approach to characterization where he should have showed us the action through the characters’ eyes. At some points, I felt the story was being told in third person omniscient (a godlike-storytelling approach where we see the story through everyone’s eyes rather than just a few people’s). This is a valid method, but not one that gets the reader vested in either character or plot.
Spoiler: Mr. Wolf did something that crime/thriller writers know is dangerous: He killed off one of the two main characters. I as reader had invested a lot of time getting to know this character, saw her/him as critical to the plot and an asset to the storyline. Her/his death cut a hole in the story’s fabric and in my emotional attachment to the novel.
With a few more books under his writer’s pen, dick Wolf will mature into an outstanding author . I hope this is a series so I can see where this fascinating main character ends up, after the tragic loss of a partner.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog,Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. In her free time, she is editor of a K-6 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.