Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenberg is investigating the disappearance of 38 different women. Each one was happy and successful until they vanished without a trace.
Desperate to find her missing sister, Lauren Wraxford seeks out Heck’s help. Together they enter a seedy underworld of gangsters and organised crime.
But when they hear rumours about the so-called ‘Nice Guys Club’ they hit a brick wall. They’re the gang that no one will talk about. Because the Nice Guys can arrange anything you want. Provided you pay the price… (goodreads.com)
William Morrow sent me STALKERS and I requested it because it sounded all thriller-like and intense and I kind of like that so what was it like? Well, it was certainly intense and it kept me reading page after page and there was a lot of action and drama and second-guessing everything because the plot kept drilling deeper and deeper into conspiracies which is where I like them to go. The only issue was that the book came at the expense of women.
So let me just get the plot out there. The Nice Guys’ Club sets up rapes for really rich men. They pay them X amount of money, the men get to choose any woman they want, the Nice Guys stalk said women, kidnap her, bring the rich men to a secure location, said men have their way with said women, either kicking and screaming or unconscious, whatever, and then the Nice Guys dispose of said woman in a body of water. I can deal with this kind of plot. I really can. Otherwise I wouldn’t have even asked for STALKERS to read. But what really got me was how women were portrayed throughout the book, through their own eyes and through the eyes of the men around them.
Louise is the opening POV we get and the last of the Nice Guys’ victims. On page 4 you get a big fat paragraph on how attractive she thinks she is, how she doesn’t care about how it belittles others’ interest in her intelligence. As long as men other than her husband kept their mitts off she didn’t mind being eye candy. She even dresses the part. We don’t really get into Gemma’s, Heck’s commanding officer, POV until later in the story but when she’s first introduced she’s all looks first, everything else second. Even later in the story, when the chapter is in her POV, she makes a comment that she’ll be advancing in her career because she’s a woman and that’s a popular thing right now. Really? The third woman is Lauren who, despite what we later learn as her being a soldier and has seen her fair share of war and is able to handle her own, is all tits and ass and long legs according to Heck when he first sees her. Let me just say, despite Lauren’s strength, I wouldn’t recommend getting too attached. Women tend to get the short end of the stick in this book.
I can swallow a SVU/Lifetime let’s-beat-the-crap-out-of-women plot. What I can’t swallow is when ALL women in the story are portrayed as little more than sex objects and when they are strong their sexuality is used to lessen them. It makes it very difficult for me to separate the book from the author because such denigration of women is so pervasive in the text that it’s hard for me to think that this isn’t how the author really thinks. If the book were entirely in the male POV I could half explain it away. But even the women lessen themselves in the face of their own looks. It makes me believe that it’s half the author not really knowing how to write a solid female POV and half him injecting his personal feelings into his these situations. I can’t help it. There’s just too much here for me to think otherwise. And since I haven’t read anything else by Finch I don’t have a basis for comparison.
I liked the story. There’s a ton of action and it kept me guessing what was going to happen and I didn’t want to put the book down. Except when I got too disgusted with how women were being portrayed in it. I want to keep reading in the series but I don’t want to keep seeing the women who make appearances in the story keep getting stepped on for one reason or another. To be fair there were times when men were introduced based on their level of sex appeal however it wasn’t nearly was consistent nor pervasive as it was for women, leading me to believe it’s part writing style too. Meh. The men felt far more realistic in their interactions, inner dialogue and associations with the world. The women felt clunky, polarizing and stereotypical of either the ditzy secretary or commanding brute but still sexy in their power. Very unnatural and rather off-putting. It really ruined the story for me.