Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"The Guilty" by Jason Pinter

Henry Parker is a journalist who comes across the story of a lifetime when an unknown assassin begins picking off famous people - including a popular actress and a media magnate. Journalism being the cut-throat world it is, he wants to find a unique angle. He gets it when he realises the assassin is using a very unlikely weapon - a Winchester. This was a rifle used by Billy The Kid. His investigation uncovers secrets from the past, which could possibly change history. Unfortunately, his knack for the facts brings him to the assassin's attention.

"The Guilty" is mildly diverting, and the history regarding Billy The Kid is quite intriguing. Events cap off with a slam-bang finale. So why isn't it ultimately successful? The main fault would have to be levelled at the characters. Unfortunately, Henry Parker himself is the worst offender. He wonders whether he'll have to live a solitary existence because his profession brings too much danger into his life and could threaten the life of his girlfriend Alison, whom he loves dearly. Is he for real? Journalism is only dangerous because journalists actively chase the danger! There are actual noble jobs out there like police officers and video store clerks who don't ask for the danger but get it anyway. So I found Henry to be a deluded, arrogant buffoon. The rest of the characters don't fare much better.

The other issue I found here was with the portrayal of journalism itself. I'm not a journalist, but the rest of my family is, so I have some passing familiarity with the profession. The journalism presented here did not really seem to connect with reality. Apparently reporters are allowed to print wildly biased opinion pieces on topical stories. The subplot involving rival journalist Paulina Cole and her quest to ruin Henry professionally is just ludicrous. One article she writes in particular would never even have made it to press.

The final nail in the coffin is the motive of the killer. Sadly, it just doesn't make much sense. He believes his targets are corrupting society, or something random like that. Pinter doesn't make any effort in exploring this opinion or why the killer follows his belief so devoutly. He's spending too much time trying to show how Henry faces the difficult decision over whether or not to break up with Alison because of the danger his job brings into his life. Give me a break. I'm tempted to cap off with some clever comment regarding what "The Guilty" is guilty of, but I won't.

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