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by Tim Green
Warner Books, February 2004
352 pages
ISBN: 0446531448

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jane Redmond is a Washington Post reporter looking to bring down a heavyweight politician. U.S. senator Michael Gleason has been avoiding the taxman for years by funneling money through a scam operation called the Good Samaritan Foundation. Thanks to a mole by the name of Mark Allen, Jane now has the goods on him. The Post is about to run with her story when Jane suddenly goes missing.

Jane's father, ex-public prosecutor Tom Redmond, knows that the first 48 hours is critical in a missing person case; if not found within that time, the victim, in most cases, is lost forever. Unwilling to leave matters in the hands of the police, Tom takes it on himself to find his daughter.

Partnered with computer guru Mike Tubbs, the only friend he has, alcoholic attorney Tom first invades the Senate gymnasium, then kidnaps Michael Gleason, the man he holds responsible for Jane's disappearance. Tom and Mike induce Gleason to talk via various methods of torture, then go after the assassin hired by Gleason to kill Jane.

Jane, meanwhile, has evaded the killer, a CIA agent by the name of Bob Thorne. Saved by Mark Allen, she's later betrayed by him and brought to an island owned by Mark's boss, Carson Kale of Kale Labs. Kale is after a government contract for an all-purpose antidote to biological weapons of mass destruction. He needs the help of Michael Gleason to get the contract, and he's ready to do anything to stop Jane from writing a story that would destroy the senator. That 'anything' includes killing her if necessary.

Mark, although dedicated to the work of Kale Labs and personally beholden to Carson Kale, is falling in love with Jane and decides to rescue her from the island. Tom Redmond and Mike Tubbs are intent on doing the same thing. Having tracked Jane to the island, they confront Kale even as Mark and Jane are running for their lives.

THE FIRST 48 is probably the worst book I've ever read. The plot is sophomoric, the characters unbelievably ludicrous, and the editing poor. Green begins this epic misadventure with a prologue involving biological terrorism. He then makes readers wade through 200 pages before he even hints at the name of the man responsible for the prologue's action. The idea that a universal antidote could exist is absurd, to say the least, as is the idea that any reputable laboratory would test the effectiveness of its product on a cruise ship's passengers. This is the stuff of fairy tales, not thrillers. True thrillers have some basis in fact.

This book reeks with illogical non-facts. As an example, a boozed-up Tom Redmond attacks a man in an ice cream shop after mistaking him for a thief, then blithely walks away after telling the cops that it was all a mistake. Sorry, folks, but in my town that kind of behavior would earn you a trip to the police station. Then Green has Redmond invade a Senate building, apparently on the premise that, despite all the post-9/11 precautions, people can still go anywhere they want in Washington. This is simply absurd, as are many of the subsequent actions of Green's protagonist.

As for editing, who in their right mind lets a sentence like this go by: "Tom caught his balance just before he fell." Or how about a line that states something disappeared "underneath your command." Under your command, yes. Underneath your command? No way! These are but two examples of the many poorly-written and poorly-edited sentences in this book. Adding to this reviewer's distress is the fact that Green gets his medical information wrong. The editor, apparently unable to pick up a phone and ask a doctor's advice on the matter, has simply let the inaccuracies slide by.

Tim Green began his working life as a football player. To coin a phrase from the game, he fumbled the ball when he wrote this book.

Reviewed by Mary V. Welk, April 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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