Lest I end the evening (or the month) with a negative review, let’s talk about that other television franchise over which I’m thoroughly gaga: CSI!
I may have mentioned this at some point here at the lair, but a while ago I found a great eBay auction on a large lot of CSI novels (I think I ended up with the first 10 novels; I could be wrong on that count, but I’m too lazy to get up and check) for a relatively low price. It was low enough, in fact, that I decided that even if I hated every single novel, it was still worth the cost.
Of course, we all know the deal by now: I bought them, received them, stacked them, and promptly moved on to other books. However, I decided one of these novels would be the perfect length for at least one leg of our recent Hawaii adventure…and I was right! I was able to finish this one during the flight from the islands to LAX. Perfect timing!
So Double Dealer, written by Max Allan Collins, is the first of the Las Vegas CSI novels. I’ve mentioned Collins here before; he was the author of three of the CSI graphic novels I’ve reviewed here. From what I wrote previously, I found his writing skills to be mostly entertaining, but I found that his stories didn’t really push the boundaries of the CSI fictional world in ways similar to how the Trek novel writers often pushed that franchise’s “accepted” boundaries. Of this, I wrote:
One thing that I’ve always liked about the Trek universe’s forays into comics and novels is the fact that the stories there tend to stray from the canonical path. With few exceptions, nothing shown in either written world is ever viewed as “truth” to the filmed Trek universe. I guess that’s not the case with the CSI universe, because not a whole lot new is revealed in these graphic novels.
It’s pretty much the same with Collins’s novel work as it was with his graphic novel work. Nothing very unorthodox, nothing shocking or even remotely different from what you would already know as a fan of the show (which is highly unacceptable to someone who may or may not spend an inordinate amount of time reading CSI fan fiction). I wonder if that changes as the novels progress or if the writers were instructed to stick within the established world seen on the show. I hope we learn some new stuff, even if it isn’t canon.
That being said, Collins wrote a pretty solid story about two murder mysteries that quickly become one mystery that leads the team across many years and many miles to reach a rather satisfying ending. It’s not going to appeal to anyone other than a really devoted CSI fan (no one will ever doubt my commitment to Sparkle Motion, I can assure you all of that), but I found it to be a great way to pass the time. Also, I very much enjoyed the deeper exposition on the more scientific aspects of what the criminalists do to solve their cases. Collins put in a fair amount of research for this story, which I greatly appreciated. One of the things that sometimes irritates me about the show (although I do understand the reasons why) is how they will gloss over the actual processes in favor of interpersonal interactions or other such character developments. I’m much more into the procedure of it all rather than the characters (most of the time). The books, therefore, are probably going to make me slightly happier than the show. Not that I’m going to give up on the show any time soon. Hell, if I’m still watching it after 13 years, I suspect I probably won’t stop until the very end…20 years from now.
Final Verdict: I’m going to hold onto this one, at least for now. No, it’s not a terribly deep novel, but I imagine it would be fun to revisit on a beach at some point. You know, when I’m finally caught up on reading all the books I own at least once 😉