You are here

Book review: <i>Trouble</i> by Jesse Kellerman


A New York night.

A beautiful woman.

TROUBLE.

Hmmm. I realise that is a fairly insipid way to begin a book review, but to be honest the book didn’t really inspire me to rave about it. In the beginning, it was barely keeping me turning the pages, and that ain’t no great shakes for a thriller! But it did pick up and become mildly interesting for a moment or two. In a sort of limp, half hearted way. And the writing was slightly above par. In fact, I think that’s why I feel so lack-luster about the whole experience... because Jesse Kellerman appears to be a cut above when it comes to making okay bits of prosy-sounding metaphor, so it just seems wasted that this was what came out. That said, for a while during the reading process, I was vaguely interested, and, in the end, I only felt the need to abandon it for mindless televisual entertainment once or twice.

The content

Okay, so there’s this guy, this med student, called Jonah, who lives for his horrid shifts at the hospital and seems to sort of enjoy his incredibly stressful and unhappy existence, flitting between 14 hours in surgery getting faeces on his shoes and then caring for his Schitzo ex-girlfriend on the weekend. Then, as he’s walking around one night, he sees a girl being stabbed. He rushes in (being a caring kind of guy) and then, in the ensuing struggle, stabs the stabber... and becomes a hero overnight. To everyone but the stabber’s bereft family, who decide to sue Jonah. He’s a little put out about it, and just when he is feeling super stressed he runs into the girl he rescued, Eve, and thinks she’s cute, and... YOU know. Then we have to put up with character development, and Jonah’s irritating flatmate Lance, and his irritating middle class family, and then... how well do we really know Eve? And the plot thickens a little.

Okay, I didn’t hate it. Maybe I am being unnecessarily harsh. I just felt like we were running around with Jonah the whole time but weren’t given the opportunity to actually understand what makes him (or the other characters for that matter) tick. And let’s face it, the only reason to read pulpy thrillers is to get our vicarious CSI style analytical couch shrink kicks and say things like “Oh, he/she/it is psycho because he/she/it was beaten as a child/attacked by predatory dingos/had a bad perm. Eat your heart out Dr Phil!”. So just being a passenger didn’t make the reading experience as engaging as it could have been, and the character I ended up understanding the motivation of best was the incidental and irrepressible flatmate Lance and that’s because he was an annoying layabout filmmaking chronic pot smoker. So it just didn’t scratch that pulpy thriller itch, and I was left feeling a bit... let down, because while I don’t want to sound like a pompous uni tutor grading a paper, I really feel like Kellerman could produce something more... substantial... if he were to utilise his writing skills for more than the production of pulp thrillers. Like I said before, I was mildly interested around the middle, and it wasn’t all bad. Some of the “thriller” bits were a bit gross. And while I don’t want to ruin the storyline, there were bits of it that made me feel like they were in there for “originality” and shock that they came across feeling like they tried to hard, and hence became trite and boring. That’s my two cents anyway.

Who is this book for?

Not spoiled for choice? Nothing else to read? Feel kind of like a thriller but want to read something that doesn’t LOOK like a thriller on the front? Go ahead, be my guest. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

If you like this book, you would also like...

Oh, I don’t know. Get some better crime fiction... seriously. There is better stuff out there, along this vein.

In short

Title: Trouble
Author: Jesse Kellerman
Publisher: Sphere
ISBN: 1847440044
Year published: 2007
Pages: 353
Review Type: