Crapometer #8

Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, Christine and Danny went out, broke up and fought all the way through high school. He was your quintessential jerk but he was also funny and charming and - oh yes - one of the most beautiful boys you've ever seen.

Fast forward six years. Christine is in law school. Danny works a series of dead-end jobs, a long way from stardom on the basketball court. Yet one Christmas, with a suitcase full of cocaine and the New Jersey mafia involved, their destinies become intertwined again.

On a snowy evening, Danny watches his boss, a deranged lawyer named Thomas Fisk, kill a mob associate and steal his drugs - all in a misguided attempt to frame him. Left alive on a whim, he hides out at friend’s, trying to get enough money for a plane ticket to anywhere else. Then, after the Family shoots up his family's house and whacks Fisk, he reaches out to Christine for help.

On a certain level, there's nothing she’d rather see than Danny hauled away in cuffs. But because of what they once had - whatever that was - she decides she can't let him be killed.

So, they flee south, break into Fisk's beach house, and discover a hidden set of ledger books detailing the money laundering activities of a Montreal biker gang. Lying through her teeth, Christine contacts the Canadian police and claims that Danny witnessed three meetings between the lawyer and the gang's murderous leader. After some hesitation, they agree to put him in their witness protection program if he comes north to testify about what he "knows."

Since Danny doesn't have a passport, the Canadians arrange to pick him up by helicopter in Atlantic City. Unfortunately, the Family gets wind of this and tries to kill Danny on the heliopad. Escaping the ambush, he and Christine steal a car and drive for the border, chased by both the state police and a team of elite hit men.

Trying to throw off their pursuers, they ditch the car and get on a bus heading into Manhattan, hoping to hide in the city. Yet, in the middle of the morning rush, the killers are waiting for them in the Port Authority Terminal.

Grabbing a gun from a cop, Christine tells Danny to run and - in absolutely the last thing she ever expected to be doing - shoots it out with the mafia so he can escape. She is hit twice in the leg, helps turn Midtown into a war zone, yet for what it's worth, gives her ex-boyfriend time to run.

A week passes. A month. Then a year. But there is no resolution. The FBI, not wanting to get into an extradition fight, covers up the matter. And the Canadian police refuse to even admit they ever talked with her. And so, not knowing if Danny is alive, Christine is left to get on with her life, haunted and ambivalent.

The weakness here is that you’ve focused on plot -and it’s a plot that seems equal parts claptrap, hokum and HBO- and left out any description about the characters. The closest we get is Christine with “in absolutely the last thing she ever expected to be doing” which falls into the “no kidding” category.

A good synopsis is more than a rendition of events. It gives us a sense of WHY the events start and WHO the characters are. Here you’ve got a guy who is funny, charming, good-looking...and has a boss who wants to frame him for murder. Describing the boss as deranged is a cop out.

What you’ve got here is a plot that’s been used one gazillion times. The ONLY thing that’s going to make this novel interesting to me is if there is something fresh and new in it, and this synopsis doesn’t show me that.


Jo Bourne said...

Perhaps I've misunderstood something in the plot, but I feel I have to mention ... a US citizen doesn't need a passport to get into Canada.

Miss Snark said...

you do now. They're changing the regulations after 9/11. It's recent.

Jo Bourne said...

Yoiks. I'm so out of it. Looks like I'll need to get the old passport dusted off and renewed.

The Gambino Crime Family said...

Actually, you were absolutely right. The story - such as it is - is set in 1988. Sigh...

Rowan said...

The passport requirement is only for Canadians going into the USA. For US citizens to get into Canada, the rules haven't changed (that I'm aware of).