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Lev Raphael

Lev Raphael

Posted: August 31, 2010 02:18 PM

Burn Notice has aired the summer finale of its fourth hit season, so you might need a Michael Weston or Fiona fix. Why not try the three books inspired by the show?

I know novel tie-ins aren't dependably good fiction, but mystery writer Tod Goldberg has the show's style down pat.

The End Game, The Fix, and The Giveaway are fun thrillers. They don't just capture the Burn Notice zing, they're well-plotted and deftly written. Like the show, Goldberg serves up heaps of Miami's lush life and low lifes while exposing its drug and arms underworld. Result? Plenty of guns'n'fun under the sun.

Goldberg also captures the show's sardonic voice-overs that clue ordinary viewers into the secret life of spies. But he's no parrot. Goldberg told me in an interview:

I essentially decided once I started writing that I'd treat the books like a band doing a cover song. I wasn't going to get it exactly right and I really couldn't hope to. It wasn't going to be the same as the show, because, uh, it's a book. You want a different thing from a book than a television show. But it would be pretty close and I'd put my own spin on it. The fans will recognize everything and then I have to try to give them something more, too: some good pulp fiction with lots of jokes.

So when you've overdosed on the reruns, you can read Goldberg's paperback trilogy and enjoy Michael, Fiona and Sam tangled up in new blues under blue skies. These books are hilarious and "as cool as the other side of the pillow." They might even make you feel that the summer's never gonna end, and there are more coming. Goldberg reports on Facebook that he's correcting galleys of the fourth Burn Notice book and 200 pages into the last one.

If you want to go deeper and get a handle on why--besides Fiona!--we're so hung up on Burn Notice, then James Gibson's amazing Warrior Dreams: Paramilitary Culture in Post-Vietnam America is a must read.

Gibson's book was first published back in the 90s when groups like the Michigan Militia were
making scary headlines. He shows you that these militias didn't come out of nowhere; they're embedded in American culture. We have a long mythic tradition of the lone gunman -- think sheriff cleaning up a corrupt town against huge odds. The tradition turned brutal after Vietnam, and that's when we became obsessed with new forms of masculine violence.

For most guys, a paintball weekend is still the easiest way to live out this dream, but anyone could theoretically become a "new warrior." What it really means is working outside the system and employing buddies in a small, elite unit. The quest is usually revenge and the warrior gets to make the corrupt world right again, battle by battle.

That's exactly Michael's gig as the studly burned spy helps friends of friends with problems that can't be brought to the police. Notice how many Burn Notice plots revolve around scamming the bad guys?

Rambo's been the most obvious recent incarnation of our warrior dreams, but Michael Weston is calmer, funnier, and leaner. Just right for the recession.

A version of this blog previously appeared on Bibliobuffet.com

 
 
 

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