Review – Chasing the Ace – Nicholas J. Johnson

Chasing the Ace

Hello Internet. Another week, another review. C-c-c-combo breaker. Review #35 is a book found in the bargain bin of a dilapidated old bookstore, under a litre of trashy, third-person science fiction swill and cut-rate erotica so tame it could be found in the kid’s section and no-one would care.

Chasing the Ace is a new variant on the traditional scam plot. There’s your headline, and that’s more or less the entire premise of this book. Avid rookie meets bold and elegant “swindler” (gods above, what a pretentious and inaccurate term!) The two pair up and attempt to pull off the biggest trick anyone has ever seen, and it all appears to fall apart before a neat little resolution reveals the trick under our noses the whole time. And of course, this tried and true formula is stuck to like any good reboot wouldn’t, which leaves me to ponder on what the hell the author was doing bringing back a genre like this?

Honestly, the comments on the back of this book’s cover lie, and lie, and lie. “It will fool you and you will love it,” is way too enthusiastic, trusting that a reader cannot think more than a couple of pages ahead. “A refreshing take on an old genre,” is just ridiculous, seeing as the book is so formulaic it could have been could be cooked up in a mathematics classroom. “Amazing”? Well, let me stop you right there. Amazing is a three-syllable adjective. It can be placed in front of phrases like “in its despondency” or “levels of idiocy”. You can generally tell the quality of a book by the length of the quotes on the cover. Unless you happen to be fond of puns, in which case all bets are off. Like on Derek Landy’s Mortal Coil, where the cover reads “Gripping”.

Right, after a lengthy dejected sigh, this is where I start unravelling the old jumper of this book’s plot. So, the know-it-all mentor figure stumbles across the new kid’s poorly-made scam, and ends up cheating him out of a significant amount of money while the boy thinks he’s making a profit. Then when the boy realises what has happened, he tracks down the mentor and demands to be taught how to play people like violins. The mentor’s soft heart responds and the two make a duo who could leave you, blissfully believing yourself to be “rich beyond measure”, on the side of the street without a cent to your name and no pants. If only that actually happened, because short of an actually pretty funny scene in a whorehouse, the humour is not up to scratch.

Now hang on just a minute. I’m here, pontificating away to my heart’s content and abusing the common comma like a madman swings an axe, and you aren’t picking up this book and reading it. You read this review and think to yourself about what a terrible decision it would be to actually go and buy this (admittedly time-wasting and pointless) book and judge it for yourself. My opinions and ideas might be completely fabricated, my “definitive” judgement could be bollocks and waffle collected from the cover of the book without a proper review of the source material. And you would believe me! Now, wouldn’t that be a trick? Ha.

Chasing the Ace was published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster Australia. It can be found on Amazon in Ebook format here, and in print here.

Yours: J.M. Pear

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Review – Chasing the Ace – Nicholas J. Johnson

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