The Good Heart by James Michael Pratt

The Good Heart by James Michael PrattI’m actually not sure what this book is about. At first it was about a guy who wants to quit politics because he’s marrying a heart surgeon. He’s the political advisor to both of the front runners for the next United States Presidency. Then he has a heart attack and spends most of the book in a coma. After that I thought it was about a slimy ex military guy, who is really full of himself, doing nefarious things in order to do nefarious things — mostly just because he can. Then suddenly there’s a big company installing GPS tracking chips in people’s heart implants and dental work. Then there’s a huge chunk of discussion about people getting heart transplants and gaining the memories of the person that the heart came from. Then there’s a showdown of some kind and some people get shot and some people die and it turns out the whole point was that that first guy just wanted to be a pastor in a small town in Florida.

There’s a supposedly trained killer who is some kind of super deadly assassin. He stabs some people, shoots some others and generally makes a mess of things. However, he never actually succeeds in doing any kind of lasting damage to anybody. The FBI comes in and talks about how dangerous he is and they scramble all over the country trying to keep an eye on him like he’s some kind of evil Jason Bourne. But he never does anything. He misses. Every time.

The political stuff sounded like a bunch of hooey. None of it made any sense from the point of view of somebody who has even a vague understanding of American politics. There was a fair bit of undercover FBI agent drama going on too, but it mostly consisted of getting doughnuts from a coffee shop and reading the newspaper while thinking about how dangerous it would be to get caught as an undercover agent — which never happened. They talk about it a lot, every time the character comes up, but that particular gun never fires.

Then there is the argument about ‘heart memory.’ It has got to be the most unconvincing argument I’ve ever encountered. Maybe that’s because the argument itself is dumb but I was really hoping to at least be convinced in the context of the story. If this was a fantasy, I would totally buy this part. If it was more subtle — i.e. small changes in behavior, etc. — then I would shrug my shoulder and find it slightly interesting. Downloading memories and whole personality changes from a donors heart is just a little bit silly. Feel free to refute this if you have evidence to the contrary.

A bunch of people run around. A bunch of them get put in comas. Mostly for no reason, they recover. People do things unexplained, completely illogically — I think this is supposed to be a case of spiritual guidance but there is no mention of that or of these characters being spiritual in any way so it’s left really vague and confusing.

The prose is also awkward. The cover flap says that Pratt is an award winning author. If that’s the case this is definitely not his award-winning writing. Most of the prose is clumsy exposition about characters thinking things in ways that people never actually think. Who thinks things like “I hope they don’t find out about that one time when… Oh, the chapter’s over. Hold that thought so I can repeat it at the end of the next chapter…”?

Then people start talking and it gets worse. Did this book have editors? I hope not because somebody should have told the author that the dialog sounds like conversations with unfunny robot clones of Ben Stein — which actually sounds kind of amusing in its own way, now that I think of it. It’s the kind of thing that you could have your computer read to you and it might actually give the voices more life than they have in the book.

The book was mercifully short but I’m afraid that’s the best there is to recommend it. I’d like to suggest a different political thriller writer but the only other ones I’ve read were Dan Brown and David Baldacci which may have actually been worse, if that’s believable. So I’ll have to stop at just saying, read something else, anything else.


One thought on “The Good Heart by James Michael Pratt”

  1. Its funny you reviewed this book. He was actually my branch president when I was at the MTC. We wrote each other for a few months during my mission. Kind of a cool guy actually.

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