Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Book: ROCK PAPER TIGER by Lisa Brackmann



I've been a Kentuckian all of my adult life, save for those four years during the Viet Nam War when the draft forced me to serve overseas at Naval bases, in Morocco and Cuba mostly.  Foreign countries give you an enhanced appreciation of home, but serving in the military bureaucracy can make you hate bureaucracies, if you were not already inclined to do so.

I tend to agree with Major General Smedley D. Butler, the highly decorated soldier of many conflicts, who said that "war is a racket" designed to make money for those rich men who control the U. S. Government, and at the expense of those drafted to fight.  I read Butler's story recently in Sally Denton's excellent The Plots Against the President: FDR, A Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right.

Anyway, I thought about all of this when choosing my selection for Forgotten Book of the Week, Lisa Brackmann's ROCK PAPER TIGER.  It was her first book, published in 2010, and right away she garnered a hard core of fans.  There were many lauding reviews and the book was on many best-of lists at the year's end.  It isn't forgotten by any means, but those of us who are fans think it deserves a much wider audience.


Rock Paper Tiger
 Brackmann's refreshingly vibrant protagonist is an Iraq War veteran who follows her husband to China to live after her service time is up.  Her husband has deserted her and she is left to fend for herself, giving us a keen look at contemporary life in China, something that is unusual to find in an American mystery or thriller.  And this is a thriller--despite what some readers have said at Amazon--it is both a conspiracy/political thriller and a virtual-gaming thriller.
Lisa Brackmann

An example of the author's dialogue:

"So, Trey, he does not work for American Government?"

"Big Corporation."  I laugh.  "What's the difference?"

John nods sagely  "You know, here in China, PLA, Peoples' Liberation Army, owns many businesses.  They hide this better than before, but still it is this way.  So maybe this is somewhat the same in America."

"It's the other way around in America," I tell him.  "Companies own the Army.  They send us where they want us to go.  To do their shit for them.  So they can get rich."
____________

There are several interviews with the author across the web, and she even has shared her query letter that landed her book with a publisher.  In that letter, she compared her spunky protagonist to Laura Lippman's, which only makes me want to read more of Lippman's books now.

And of course, I'll soon be sending for Brackmann's second novel.

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