Home > Book, Genre, Review, thriller > Book Review: King of Paine by Larry Kahn

Book Review: King of Paine by Larry Kahn

Sillhouette of a woman in front of Atlanta skyline.Summary:
Frank Paine was a Hollywood A-list leading man until he let the woman he loved deal with a BDSM scandal in the news on her own, thereby destroying her career and saving his.  The guilt got to him, so he ended up leaving Hollywood and joining the FBI in an effort to bring justice to the world.  His first case in the Rainbow Squad, however, involves not child rape or molestation but adult, BDSM style rape-by-proxy, and his ex-girlfriend is a suspect.  Meanwhile, a former Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who’s been drowning his sorrows in alcohol finds himself swept up into the life of Angela del Rio and and discovering rumors of a place called The River.

Review:
I’m of two minds about this book.  I felt the need to find out what happened in the end, but I also didn’t enjoy the meat of the story very much.  It’s kind of like when you find yourself watching a marathon of The Biggest Loser and wondering why, exactly, it matters to you who gets voted off when the show get so many nutrition and exercise facts wrong and why exactly are the competitors cut off from their family anyway?  Actually, it’s exactly like that.

Kahn builds suspense well.  He’s clearly paid attention to just how much and how often to ramp up the violence and intrigue to keep a reader reading.  I also appreciated the two separate story-lines that then intertwined.  Of course, the reader knows they’re going to intertwine, but how is not immediately obvious.  That was a nice touch.

Kahn also moves smoothly between real life dialogue and the chats on an online BDSM website that are a key part of the investigation. It was definitely crucial to a modern story to include the internet, and he switches between real life and the internet quite well.

That said, other crucial parts of telling a story fell flat for me.  Kahn does not write women well.  On looking back, it is evident that women in his story are divided into the classic dichotomy of angel or whore.  There is no real room for three-dimensional characterization, making mistakes, or understandable motivations.  For instance, Paine’s ex goes from calling her brother to threaten to kill him to getting back together within a week.  That’s, um, fast?  Similarly, although Kahn slips back and forth easily between Paine’s and Roger’s perspective, he never shows any of the women’s perspectives, even though they are the ones being raped, beaten, tricked, used, and abused.  I can understand using the perspective of an FBI agent, but why couldn’t the second perspective have been Angela instead of Roger?  Or why couldn’t he have made the reporter a woman?  Regardless, none of the women in the story were believable, real characters.

Similarly, I was ultimately disappointed with who the perpetrator of the crime ultimately is.  Without spoiling it, suffice to say the choice is stereotypical, bordering on racist.  It was a choice lacking in creativity or sensitivity.

Overall, although the suspense reeled me in, the content of the story left me with a sour taste in my mouth.  I suppose if you want a junk food style suspense, or if the negatives I pointed out wouldn’t bother you, you may enjoy this book.  Those looking for thought-provoking, realistic suspense should look elsewhere, however.

3 out of 5 stars

Source:  Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review

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  1. Lori M.
    December 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I found the review of KING OF PAINE by OPINIONS OF A WOLF to be … interesting. I like the way the review brought out the real pros and cons for her.

    I, on the other hand (and as a female) somewhat disagree with that review. The women characters that the author portrays in KING OF PAINE are not taken to the extreme (Angle or Whore) in my humble opinion. Certain authors choose to write from different perspectives and I really liked the perspectives of ALL characters in this novel — even if only told by the two main characters (Frank and Roger). Without the two main female characters speaking for themselves I could still very well relate to them. I think the author did a great job of getting and/or providing the women’s perspectives by simply using ~his style~ of writing.

    Authors have many paths of choice to make. A no-brainer — I know. They can choose to write in first person, second person, third person or a combination of all three. Larry Kahn had a choice to make (as to what style and person he was going to write from) and he did so in a way whereby I really enjoyed the novel. Perhaps I did not notice/view the women in this novel being portrayed as complete opposites because I am not a women’s libber for sure! I did not see Jolynn Decker as a whore but only a woman at a crossroads. She was a character and she had a role to play. I could offer more but I don’t want to add spoilers here.

    Further, things DO change quickly in real life. When Frank Paine’s ex-girlfriend (Jolynn Decker) feels the need to protect herself against Frank at a certain time … she had her reasons. The author explains this very well in the novel. Frank and Jolynn Decker never really stopped loving each other so I could easily see actions, motivations and feelings easily change for her within a week. She was betrayed by Frank but she didn’t want to let him go entirely. How many times have we seen that sort of thing happen in movies? Hate him, love him. Hate him, love him. Or vice versa — hate her, love her.

    The two main male characters in this novel (Frank and Roger) show how GOOD MEN will go to great lengths (even putting their own lives in danger) to be keep and take care of the women they love. Frank and Roger are two of those GOOD MEN out there — in this novel or a real-life.

    I couldn’t imagine who the perpetrator in this novel might be but, after finding out, I was pleasantly surprised TO BE SURPRISED. The author dropped a couple of ideas of who it could be in a roundabout way but I would have never put two and two together as to who the person or persons were that need to be hunted down in this novel.

    During the part of the novel where a guilty party needs to be found (so there are no more lost lives) there is also a mystery needs to be solved. If a reader is astute enough and peels the layers back between the two storylines in this novel perhaps they could have guessed who the guilty party was. Although I doubt it. I think the author did a phenomenal job keeping the perpetrator elusive and when the mystery is solved (and finding out how the perpetrator relates to the mystery) it is bittersweet.

    What I liked most about this novel was how the author brought many social and debatable themes into the novel that make the reader think twice about judgments and beliefs. I was blown away when I read ” Those looking for thought-provoking, realistic suspense should look elsewhere, however.” If anything, the novel is NOTHING BUT extremely thought-provoking and the suspense, the thrill and what is going to happen to the characters next had me turning pages quicker and quicker. It takes good writing, a great storyline, great dialogue between characters (and the characters themselves) for the end-result to be a super enjoyable and exciting read and KING OF PAINE allowed me to enjoy every one of those things.

    In sum, this novel has all the elements of a great suspense novel and it is written better than several novels by longtime famous authors who fall down with a novel on occasion. The characters and issues brought forth in KING OF PAINE are not those of the average story. Whether it be the certain dark side of the Internet or a mystery to be unraveled and revealed — that ended up touching me personally — this novel has all those elements. Most importantly, they are were so very many thought-provoking issues in this novel that it STANDS ALONE in that category as well.

    I loved the novel KING OF PAINE and I will read it again! The female character Jolynn Decker always had a motto for her online activities. For her it was “no risk, no thrill.” The same thing goes for the readers considering this novel — if you don’t take the risk of reading it you will miss out on a great “thrill” of a story/novel.

    Lori in Arizona

    • December 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      My, you certainly have a lot to say about this book on somebody else’s blog. Perhaps you should start your own!

  2. December 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Great review. Thanks for writing.

  3. January 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I liked your review. I’m working on my review right now. I felt about the same as you did about the book.

    • January 3, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Thanks, Cheryl! I look forward to seeing yours.

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