American Hero by Larry Beinhart

Yeah, yeah, yeah… go read this book.

Did I like it?  Yes.  It reminded me a little of Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein but with less Godzilla bukkake.  I think the premise was good but there were some tangled plot-lines that didn’t always resolve so nicely and then everything train-wrecks at the end anyways.  I think there are a lot of good questions not raised anymore about Desert Shield.  I think folks like Beinhart and Baudrillard probably had an eerie Matrix-like moment of deja vu when Bush Jr. came onto the scene and took us into Iraq to avenge an attack from al Qaeda.  Personally, I had a little parallax of my own while reading this book, at least in context of the events of the last decade.

Sounds a bit like father like son.

I think what this book does perhaps better than anything is to show how the events of one generation are intimately linked to the events of the previous and the one before that.  WWII, the Phoenix Program, Vietnam, Watergate, CIA proprietary companies, etc. etc.

I think there are a lot of artificial means used to prolong his Sam Spadian protagonist’s involvement in his investigation but it was necessary to keep things moving that otherwise would have had no reason to.  I abhor books written about a writer but I absolutely hate self-insertions of the writer with their real name.  To me that completely ruined the end of the book and my enjoyment of it.  The themes of sexuality and voyeurism, AIDS, racism, Hollywood’s impact on normal people, government corruption/apathy of rational morality in favor of continued power and control, and a nation’s recovery from Vietnam all collide in a hard-broiled detective novel that consummates what is traditionally not in this genre.

p.s.  Did anyone else notice that the gay guy’s death immediately follows a specifically unprotected sex scene?