Plot: Joe Knocker is a thief. Following the Roadshow around, picking targets and returning six months later to steal their valuable item to sell. But a mark makes him rethink his life and Knocker must confront his past mistakes if he is to move forward.
To avoid jail, Knocker goes on a trek across America to retrieve a flag he stole four years ago. Along the way, Knocker lets go of his thieving and becomes Raoul; a normal man interested in art. But is Raoul strong enough to see it through or does Knocker have to reappear one last time?
Quote: It was only human nature for people to make small talk while standing in line, especially when attending a grown-up version of “show and tell.” This could be the worst part of Knocker’s day, having to interact with the folks he might end up robbing.
Opinion: If ever a book missed a mark and its potential, it was this one. The synopsis sounded intriguing and promised a book full of excitement, redemption and tension. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The plot is a redemption story about a man trying to right a wrong he committed years ago and turn around his whole lifestyle at the same time. What it actually is, however, is a tour of America with naming every road and restaurant the character stops at. The majority of the book focused on food and what Raoul was eating where. It undermined any tension, distracted from what the plot was supposed to be about and when you’re halfway through the book and still reading about steaks, very boring.
Raoul’s character – both as Raoul and Knocker – created very little empathy. He knew he had to change his lifestyle or it would kill him… then he spends most of the book ignoring what his doctors have said. The character develops, but only in a forced and unnatural way rather than feeling like he is going on a genuine journey. I wouldn’t trust Raoul anymore than I would trust Knocker. You want to feel for a character and the only thing I felt was that Raoul was a waste of space.
The pacing was too slow and the tension non-existent. Not only was food written about at every possibly moment, so was each road Raoul travelled along. When he does have confrontations, it turned into a nice chat and everything goes pleasantly well. There was never a moment where I felt Raoul was actually in danger or what the consequences would be if he didn’t make it back. With nothing to grip me, I found myself bored for most of the way through this book.
I gained nothing from reading this novel, apart from some good places to eat if I ever ended up in America. It felt like a travel guide someone had tried to work a story into, and forgot the important elements of story-telling: excitement and genuine characterisation. A book that disappointed me from beginning to end.