Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WEB Griffin

I just finished WEB Griffin's Vigillantes. This was one of his Badge of Honor series about Philadelphia cops. The writing is fast and naked. A lot of WEB Griffin is characterization. I've read a half dozen of these Badge of Honor books over the years so have come to enjoy Payne the bright young cop "who could have been lawyer but stayed with the force" and Law the doctor who loves him. They're a bit of a soap opera with some action and a lot of intrigue. Good detective novels. What makes them most interesting is that WEB Griffin is truly a favorite writer of police forces. I appreciate this. This is either how cops see themselves or ideally how they see themselves. There's a real 'truthfulness' in these accounts that is so clearly at variance with the way police are so commonly misrepresented. I can't help but come away from WEB Griffin Badge of Honor novel without thinking these guys are trying despite the system. It's a tough job but normal guys are doing their best in difficult times. They're dealing with the corruption and drugs. It's a jungle out there but thanks to the police mostly its safe for society to get on with more than just defending themselves.

In contrast WEB Griffin's other series Brotherhood of War has been for me a mixed bag. The truth is I've read a half dozen of those too so obviously keep coming back to them as a kind of guys beach book. WEB Griffin is a fast raw writer in the popular Tom Clancy form. It's hard to criticize such a giant and such a true success story. The trouble is that the last Brotherhood of War series I read just had too much drinking and men playing war with 50's upper class girls to be that entertaining. Perhaps I've talked to too many vets and am a bit too jaded on the continual wars of our times to be able to remove myself from the suffering to appreciate these novels which army recruiters must truly love.

They are historical fiction and probably reflect the archetypes that were dominant at the time and explain to some degree a similar Hollywood take post WWII on the types of characters and the very thinking that won the war. Maybe it's the American take too. John Wayne half cut. Maybe war is mostly about drinking and girls, at least the only parts one wants to remember other than the camaraderie.

I prefer the Badge of Honor series. Policing is a whole lot different with greater complexity and depth and everyday people going to work and wanting friends and family. There's also big questions and ideas in Vigillantes. What is wrong with the justice system and what needs to be done before it's too late.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

No comments: