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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:one moon gifiUniverse.com, Inc.(Trade Paperback) ISBN 0-595-14051-3
The Plantation chills instead of thrills. This "mystery thriller" by Chris Kuzneski suffers from the ultimate fatal flaw in a thriller -- boredom. The genre demands nonstop action and tension in plot, narrative and characters. The Plantation hits all the stops.

Book: Chris Kuzneski, The Plantation The first book in a projected series, The Plantation introduces friends Jonathon Payne and David Joseph Jones. Payne once served as commander and Jones as lieutenant of the MANIACS -- an elite, top-secret strike force of ten soldiers.

Now civilians, Payne and Jones remain friends. Payne acts as a non-working CEO for his inherited family company, Payne Industries. Jones, with the help of Payne's money, sets up a solo detective agency. These sidekicks join forces and use their MANIAC training to rescue Payne's girlfriend from a racially motivated kidnapping. Their search uncovers a revenge conspiracy involving a former slave plantation on a Louisiana coastal island.

Jonathon Payne, his rich boy persona camouflaging his blood and guts personality, invokes heroes like the Scarlet Pimpernel, Batman, and Zorro. Payne, however, never achieves superman status because Kuzneski fails to integrate the ineffectual with the powerful. Throughout most of the book, Payne never displays the savvy or expertise for a commander of an elite killing force.

For example, Payne's girlfriend fails to answer his telephone calls and his pounding on her apartment door. Payne spots electrical tape covering the door's peephole. He runs to the parking lot and sees her car there. His next action: call up Jones. He waits for Jones. They check out the apartment door. Jones points out the tape's position as the work of amateurs, inspiring a lecture on Watergate. The two interview a witness to the kidnapping. Meanwhile, the reader screams, "Break down the door, already!"

Such scenes constantly interrupt the story's momentum. Another plot stopper involves the heroes eating lunch in New Orleans and discussing the food in detail. No plot progression there.

Kuzneski's writing lacks the power a mystery thriller needs. Just like Payne and Jones, the writing plods along. The author fills the book with explanatory paragraphs: the restoration of downtown Pittsburgh, the history of the New Orleans "French Quarter" (Kuzneski even provides its French name) and slavery. Characters give long speeches. The stilted dialogue adds to the book's slow pace. The bantering between best buddies Payne and Jones lacks realism. Their jokes fall flat.

Even when Payne and Jones finally kick into MANIAC mode, killing one person after another, the narration fails to excite. Kuzneski prolongs the story with a second confrontation between the buddies and the bad guys which draws nothing but a yawn.

The colorless motto of the MANIACS best sums up the book's torpid tale -- "If the military can't do the job, send in the MANIACS." Actually, in The Plantation, Kuzneski "sends in the clowns."

Lynn I. Miller

Readers Respond

I am an avid reader. I just enjoy books. Chris Kuzneski's book, The Plantation, is a fantastic book. I saw Chris at a booksigning and bought his book. Before I left the mall I read 4 chapters. I completely finished his book at 3 a.m., because I just could not put it down. Every time I tried to put it down I just had to see what was going to happen next. I just cannot believe that anyone that this book lacked power.

Kim Long

I've been a voracious reader for the last 20 years, and during the past few, I can honestly say that only a few books truly stand out. One of those is The Plantation by Chris Kuzneski. I find the book's premise to be thrilling, his dialogue to be top-notch, and his humor to be hysterical. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw the review of The Plantation on your site. I was stunned that you tore the book to shreds. Literally stunned. I realize that taste is a subjective thing, but some of the comments that your reviewer made were so far off base I had to wonder if she is the author's ex-wife. Whatever the case may be, it's quite obvious that she read a different book than I, for the one I devoured was full of non-stop action, intriguing facts, and full-fledged belly laughs. 'Tis a shame that she failed to enjoy his writing, for I have a strong feeling that Chris Kuzneski will be around for a very long time. . . .

Clive Marshall

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