Review: By Order of the President

By Order Of The President

Despite being one of the most prolific and successful military fiction writers, it’s taken me a very long time to read W. E. B. Griffin. I started with By Order of the President. And well, I sure hope the rest of his books aren’t like it. The story of the search for a stolen Boeing 727 and the sinister plot behind it, it doesn’t exactly fly through the skies gracefully.

Although to be fair it does seem like the wrong genre for its author’s writing style. Viewed one way, it’s just a stylistic misfit. All the detail, the flashbacks to the past, and the grounded way of writing all feel much more fit for historical fiction (which most of Griffin’s famous work is) than a contemporary thriller (which this is). As for the parade of meetings and travel that makes up nearly all of the book, it arguably fits into the “too realistic for its own good” category. At the very least, it’s an orange read by someone who prefers apples. But I could all this the benefit of the doubt…

…If the main character was someone other than a half rich German, half rich Texan (Griffin famously said outright that “rich people are more interesting than poor people”) super-agent who hit my suspension of disbelief hard. Or if the story, regardless of realism or style, was better paced. As it stands, it just clunks along and then rushes when it’s near its conclusion.

Finally, I got the impression that this was aimed for the people for whom reading about something is interesting in and of itself. The technical descriptions and organizational procedures made it seem that way. It’s either a flaw or another orange compared to my favored apples.

I can still see Griffin’s appeal, and he was successful and famous for a reason. This isn’t something inexplicably popular and published like William W. Johnstone. But I still see him striking out at the first at-bat I noticed.

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