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Texas Ranger Morgan Kane #1: Without Mercy
By Louis Masterson
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
This is truly one of the more bizarre books we've ever received here at CCLaP headquarters; and unfortunately, unlike normal, I don't mean that in a good way today. Supposedly a popular American-style Western series in Norway where the author is from (his real name is not "Louis Masterson" but Kjell Hallbing, and the first volume originally came out almost half a century ago), 80 titles in size now and with a collective 20 million copies sold, this first-ever English edition of volume one arrived with great fanfare from one "WR Films" production company, with big talk about how this is in the process of getting made into the next fabled Big Hollywood Summer Franchise; but then when I sat down and actually read it, I learned that it's more like some weird Saturday Night Live sketch come to true life, where they're making fun of a northern European who decided one day to write an American Western "Shprokets" style, all weird and obtuse and with something indefinably off about the whole thing. This then led me down the rabbithole of the stranger and stranger WR Films, and all the truly weird inconsistencies inherent in their operations: their CEO is supposedly the former president of Warner Home Video, for example, which would make one assume them to be a company with millions to spare, yet their cover letter arrived on plain "Home Depot Special" laserprinter paper obviously outputted on some cheap home personal printer. Then there's the book's official website which turns out to point only to a big ad for cheap pharmaceuticals; and there's the fact that their cover letter declared them to be not WR Films at all but Velocity House Publishing, which based on my research seems to be one of those sceevy "franchise incubation factory" companies (you know, like James Frey's) that attempt to take an unknown author's franchise idea and "cook" it into a viable moneymaking bestseller and Hollywood production deal, through such ethically questionable activities as search-engine manipulation and the like. Whew, what a huge amount of behind-the-scenes hands and money that's already been attached to a mediocre Western that reads almost like a parody of itself!
Ultimately there's a detail here that neatly encapsulates everything wrong with Texas Ranger Morgan Kane #1: Without Mercy (and wrong with the entire "franchise incubator" concept for that matter, a bottom-line-oriented approach to publishing that tends to do yucky things like refer to novels as "content units" and "information reports"), which is that this book went out with literally dozens of obvious typos and punctuation errors, badly typeset and with too small a font; and while regular readers know that I'm usually very tolerant of such small mistakes when they come from basement presses, trying to put out an entire novel for fifty bucks and with one employee, this is from a company that's trying to present itself publicly as no less than the next Dreamworks, and from a company with that kind of staff and budget, the quality of this book is unacceptable, simply unacceptable. I consider it a real insult to me as a reviewer, and especially a reviewer who kindly offers to automatically review any book that a person takes the trouble to send me, to be forced to deal with a manuscript that's in such amateurish shape, from a company who should both know better and who has the money to do better; and if I could offer a little piece of advice to the executives over there at WR Films, before you spend any more money on fancy production design sketches, do us all a favor and hire a f-cking proofreader first.
Out of 10: 0.7