Monday, December 14, 2020

Book Review: You Only Live Once (A James Flynn Escapade Book 1) by Haris Orkin

 A Laugh-a-Page Spy Spoof; Just Don’t Read the Author’s Synopsis!

Don’t read the synopsis because I’m convinced that the “twist” the author gives in the first two sentences of it will be that much more fun if you walk into the story unprepared. Of course, the same can be said of this review, so I’ll give you the bottom line upfront so you can stop after reading it:

If you enjoy laughing and pulling for the underdog, then pick up a copy of You Only Live Once. Overall, it’s often politically incorrect, frequently profane, and always great fun.

Well, I guess you don’t want to be surprised (since you’re still reading), so here’s the twist that I suggested you skip. James Flynn is a double-O spy in Her Majesty’s Secret Service a la James Bond … or so he believes. In fact, he’s “… a heavily medicated patient in a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital.” The possibilities stemming from that satirical premise are many and largely humorous.  Author Haris Orkin picks one that bestows some of the characteristics we associate with a world-class spy upon Flynn—he can tell if his martini has been stirred or shaken, for example. But in other cases, Flynn’s confidence is just part of his delusion, e.g., his expertise in flying an Apache helicopter is all fantasy. And while this constantly shifting ground of factual vs. imaginary beliefs keeps the plot moving and the laughs coming, it also detracts a bit when Orkin wants to create drama. In particular, some of the fight scenes are vicious, but it’s difficult to feel too concerned about Flynn when you never know if he’s going to beat everyone with a single finger or his laser pointer. The dilution of drama, however, is a small price to pay for all the laughs.

The issues in craft are small. There are a few typos, e.g., “She was even more beautiful then he remembered.” There are a few changes in point of view within a single paragraph. And while the author usually refers to the protagonist as Flynn, occasionally he’d say ‘James’ did something. Those missteps, however, are more than offset by the humor and the affinity you’ll feel for Flynn and his band of reluctant followers. In fact, by the end of the book, you may want to join them in the next installment. I know I do.

See on Amazon:

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