Lyndon Stacey

Lin Stone

I don't like authors whose covers shout to the world they are about to take someone's crown away.  That is usually a definite tip-off they don't know what they are doing.  A thousand wannabees try to write like Jack Higgins, a hundred thousand wannabees try to write like Louis L'Amour. 

I HATE COPYCATS when it comes to literature.
They can imitate, they can copy, but they can never equal real writing and they need to find out who THEY are first, anyway.  Consequently, when I read the front cover of Cut Throat and saw that Lyndon Stacey was close to taking the crown away from Dick Francis I shuddered in disgust and just about didn't buy the book. 

More fool me, the author doesn't write the blurbs for the covers
and isn't responsible for the stupidity of those who do.

So, I bought the book and began reading, and sure enough, the beginning chapter was down the road from the quality produced by Dick Francis.  But, it was better than good enough to read some more, you know?  She was definitely better than 90% of the writers writing today.  So I curled up on the couch and began to read in earnest. 

The second chapter had settled down and contained better writing than the first one.  Then the third chapter was better than the second one.  By the fifth chapter I was enjoying the book and hoped the author would not let me down too terribly if I kept reading.  By the fifteenth chapter I had telegraphed to my wife with clear instructions to start buying up any other books by this author.

Now, it is obvious in almost every chapter that Lyndon has read books by Dick Francis.  The plot to this first book resounds with hollow echoes of past Francis glories.  But there are major differences.  First, Francis was an adventure novelist who happened to throw in a mystery.  Lyndon is a mystery writer who happens to throw in adventure.  She also writes in third person "HE" where Francis wrote in first person, "I".  I prefer the I, but this HE is pretty good.

The HE in this book is Ross Wakelin, a talented American rider with a nightmare in his American past that is still keeping him awake on the other side of the Atlantic.  After the nightmare is examined I have to admit it would keep me up most of the night too.

It also turns out that Ross can ride wild horses bareback and on top of that he's handsome -- and besides that he can psychoanalyze crazy horses.  One glow of greatness you can get away with introducing.. two makes heavy sledding, three -- well, an author has his or her hands full trying to carry all three balls at the same time.  But Lyndon wisely drops two balls out of three and concentrates on carrying just one ball at a time.  Then she drops that one and picks up the second ball.  Thus she carries these three off like a pro. 

Most authors are content with creating  one fascinating character in a book, Lyndon lashes out in a frenzy and creates six human characters that are fascinating and makes all six of them believable.  She also produces seven fascinating characters in the animal kingdom and makes all seven of them believable.  Lesser characters in the book are fleshed out as if she were drawing from real life and they very definitely do not orbit around any of the main characters, nor are they made of Dickens wood.  They have real parts to play and if one of the main characters gets in the way, too bad.  Life is unfair.  Dick Francis said so, so does Lyndon Stacey.

original photo by Derek Burbridge
Click for larger size

The book looks to be way over 100,000 words long and there is one token sex scene in it, but you will need to use your imagination hard to get any titillation out of it.   Now, that pleases me and I hope it pleases you because, quite frankly, any damn fool can produce a sex scene but it takes one damn fine writer to carry you over a hundred thousand words without throwing in a dozen titillating sex scenes to flare up flagging interest.

The ending, the resolution, that is where 90% of your published authors -- including me -- fall down on the job.  Not only was the ending of this book good, it was great -- thoroughly satisfying in the most professional way.  Every clue was wrapped up, every thread was accounted for.  The good guy got the girl for all the right reasons, he kept his job that he loved because everyone agreed he really did deserve, and he had thoroughly trounced evil into the mud with the complete approval of everyone -- except maybe the police.  Best of all, every one of the characters in the last few scenes stood up to close (professional) scrutiny of their parting behaviors and passed the pure gravy test with flying colours. 

One last comparison.  I have always hated the covers on all of the books by Dick Francis. Lyndon -- on the other hand -- has been handed book cover artists that are truly gifted.  All nine of them invite readers to open up the book, and in fact I'm sure that a great cover is the ONLY reason I bought my first book by this author. 

In short, my opinion is: don't open this book up until you have a long holiday weekend ahead of you because if you like good writing
and wonderful people,
you will keep reading until you finish. 

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