I’m at risk of confirming my Mr Grumpy status here, but I feel the need to vent some built-up steam pressure about mistakes that appear in novels.
I’m an avid reader, devouring three or four novels a week, concentrating on my chosen writing genre of crime thrillers. In creating my own Cornish Detective stories, I do a ton of research and fact-checking, even if I think I know what’s right, so it’s irksome to come across published novels that are rife with errors. I’m annoyed twice over, for not only did the author foul up but whoever did the editing couldn’t be bothered to do their job properly.
I recently read a thriller where the goodies evaded capture by shooting a bad guy with a hidden gun, that he hadn’t expected the prim and proper woman to be carrying. She used a Ruger .327 which is one of the loudest compact pistols around—I know, as I fired one at an American gun range. This wouldn’t have mattered, had the plot not gone on to then have a nosy next-door neighbour question the goodies about what they’d been doing in the empty house, alerted by them slamming the front door; she didn’t mention the gunshot at all.
In the same novel, Miss Prim & Proper, who was plainly more feisty than she looked, was kidnapped by the dead baddy’s colleague who threw her into the boot of a Chrysler 300 saloon, with her arms and legs untied. ‘Hmmm’, thought I, ‘This’ll be good, she’ll get out of there quickly, as that model of car is fitted with an emergency trunk release inside the boot/trunk.’ This is a lever with a bright yellow luminous rubber grip that’s almost bright enough to read a book by, there as an anti-kidnapping feature. Despite having many opportunities to open the lid and spring out, the abducted woman stayed where she was and was used as a hostage. The author hadn’t done his research.
In another novel, which carried a dozen endorsements on its cover by leading thriller writers, the protagonist fired shots at the motorcycles of an outlaw biker gang camped in the desert, to distract them from his buddy sneaking in to release a prisoner. All quite credible, except the author described one Harley Davidson falling over when a bullet hit its petrol tank like it was a frail goat. That bike weighs 600lb and wouldn’t have moved. I almost expected the Harley to cry out, “Ooh, owy owy ow, yer got me!” What’s even weirder about this, is that the author is a prize-winning rifleman who’s won national shooting competitions, so he should know better.
I could go on, and I know that stories are ‘sexed-up’ with daft and illogical froth to make them more appealing, but I still despair when I read something that’s bolted beyond the realms of fiction and into the wasteland of implausibility. I immediately stop believing in the story.
Have you come across any glaring errors, plot holes big enough to drive a tank through or details that didn’t ring true to you?
Go on, vent, it feels nice!