I had finished reading Raise the Titanic to my senior charge and he’d suggested a non-Cussler book for the interim. I told him that I would think of something. Later that night, the YouTube algorithm presented me with a high-octane—and, as we would later discover, misleading—trailer for Netflix’s upcoming show, The Night Agent. As has been my recent wont, whenever a preview for a film or television show catches my interest I check if it was adapted from a book, and, if so, add that book to the “to read” list. It turned out that The Night Agent was indeed one such adaptation, so I blindly purchased the Kindle edition and proceeded to spend the next five Wednesday afternoons subjecting my poor senior citizen to a recitation of Matthew Quirk’s amateurish, uneven, and poorly edited prose.
My charge fell asleep during the climax of the story. He encouraged me to skim over parts. This is an eighty-year-old gentleman who has read, and loved, most of Clive Cussler’s body of work. And I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t tempted to jump over a few chapters, something I haven’t done since the start of the Great Reading Project of mine.
The premise of the book is good and the characters are three-dimensional, but the prose lacks color and the pacing is as rough as a back-country gravel road. Very little of the book rolled smoothly off my tongue, and I found myself making many on-the-fly edits to improve coherence.
It was a torturous read.
I showed the Netflix trailer to the old man once we finished the book, and his words say it best:
“I guess you don’t have to be all that good a writer to get a Netflix deal, eh?”