Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.
Collateral Crimes by Jeffrey Yochim was published in 2016. The book is a stand-alone novel intended to be the start of a series. It is Mr. Yochim’s debut novel.
The Strengths of Collateral Crimes
Everyone’s personalities and motivations are thoroughly explained. The book is strong on character development moments and conversations while weaving this through the narrative.
The details of the scenario that lead to the improbable situation that is the crux of the story are explained. Starker, the main character, hooks up with a truck driver to get a ride so his mother doesn’t have to take him to a convention. It just happens to be a truck with a cargo slated to be hijacked – and you see the whole story that takes place up to that point in order for this to happen.
The violence is realistic and PG-13 in a genre where graphic R rated (or worse) is the norm. The language is PG to PG-13, depending on your definition. There isn’t anything graphic or excessively shocking just for the shock value.
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No major plot holes! I add this because so many action thrillers and mysteries have plot holes so obvious Cracked mocks them.
The Weaknesses of Collateral Crimes
Valdo Esposito is the enforcer, demanding money; having to be explained what GPS and a bunch of other common acronyms stand for means he’s either stupid, ignorant or way out of touch. Since the character’s intelligence is demonstrated again and again, the explanations of everything is excessive. Hash tags, bloggers and wordpress are also explained in the novel. Jimmy Deguardia is the lender, mob boss is completely trope. In contrast, Johnathan Starker, creator of West Wave 1 fantasy just trying to get to the convention, is a fully fleshed out character.
If the main character is afraid for his life when confronted with a killer and has military fans eager to help him, it is both dangerous and wrong to say “just delay him” instead of “kill him” or “disable him, then call the police”. Yes, the killer and his friend said they were agents. That doesn’t mean the federal government is involved, and even if it is, local police would still render assistance and deal with a murderer.
ATF officials running guns to Mexican cartels is not a conspiracy theory if you know about the ATF “gunwalking” to Mexican drug cartels early in the Obama administration to Operation Fast and Furious that ran through 2011. These conspiracies are mentioned in the book in passing. The book also touches on the issue of Middle Easterners sneaking into the U.S. along with Mexicans and Central Americans.
The book has no deus ex machina moments, though the network of relationships is tighter than would normally occur in real life. “That murder victim, I know him, everyone does -!”
If you want to read a classic action/mystery/thriller, Tom Clancy’s books are always an excellent read. For more recent books in this genre, Michael Savage’s “Jack Hatfield” series ending with “Countdown to Mecca” are a good choice.
“Collateral Crimes” is a modern action-mystery book with ties to several political scandals, though it isn’t intended to be political. I give this book four stars for decent story-telling, and something all too lacking today, a coherent, logical plot.