Book review: The Black Opera by Raymond Embrack

Faydra Deon
By Faydra Deon October 26, 2012 23:59

Book review: The Black Opera by Raymond Embrack

While reading The Black Opera, I kept having flashbacks of Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK.

That is in no way to suggest the author of the book plagiarized the movie. It’s simply to acknowledge that Raymond Embrack took some creative license with historical events just as many movie directors do when they manufacture their version of what we don’t know because we weren’t there.

OK, so let’s get the spelling/grammar/punctuation (SGP) stuff out of the way…

Commas. Commas. My queendom for some commas.  🙁

There were many, many places where commas were needed, which is the same issue I found in Big Superhero Action (BSA). Maybe because I’m such a grammar geek, the missing commas are blaringly absent for me even though this might not phase other readers.

Also, in the SGP arena, unlike in BSA, there were lots of periods in places where periods shouldn’t have existed. This was more towards the beginning of the book, though. After several chapters, I stopped seeing the period pock marks so much.

Also, unlike in BSA, there were many places where words were left out of sentences, words were included that weren’t supposed to be in sentences and words were in the wrong places in sentences. It was like there was a rush to publication and lots of typos got overlooked. A quick edit was all The Black Opera needed to alleviate such mistakes.

Just as in BSA, there is an overflow of sentence fragments in The Black Opera, but this simply seems to be part of Embrack’s writing style, and I do not advocate he change it. I mean, every writer should have their own style in some regard.

I docked Embrack one and a half stars for flaws in spelling/grammar/punctuation and proofreading/editing (or the lack thereof). I just believe he’s a better writer than what I saw in this book.

Okay, moving on… 

I would suggest you brush up on your American History to have an appreciation of the 60s and 70s flashbacks.

I’d classify The Black Opera as revisionist historical/futuristic fiction. That’s because of the flashbacks.

Then the book flashes forward to the year 2017.

The idea of the Kennedy Curse is alive and well in The Black Opera, and the book also builds on a well-worn rumor about John F. Kennedy as a lady’s man. The fact that the slain, former president’s alleged illegitimate son is President of the United States is why the country finds itself the target of terrorist activity in 2017. 

While keeping one urban legend alive, the book seeks to dispel the “lone-nut theory” in that it asserts that a rogue FBI agency called the American Thunder Party is behind the assassinations of JFK, RFK and even Lee Harvey Oswald, among other people. 

In the midst of all that’s going on in 2017, you have home-grown and international terrorists setting off nuclear bombs in Los Angeles, outside the White House, London, Las Vegas and Tokyo.

Did I mention that the people doing the bombing were given the weapons of mass destruction free of charge all because a madman, who wants to be president, hates the Kennedys and everything they stand for? Since he believes the current president, George Deering, is the son of JFK, he will stop at nothing to discredit Deering, even if that means destroying America.

The President has to strike back to save his administration and his country, and he’s not above using nuclear bombs to achieve his end. It also helps that his brother is not just a spare, but he’s connected to the American intelligence community in ways that make him and the president a hard-hitting dynamic duo.

I’m not really a fan of revisionist history, so this would have been a better read for me without the flashbacks to what happened when Kennedy was assassinated.

I did find the parts neat where Embrack puts words and thoughts to situations like Lee Harvey Oswald sitting in the movie theater after he’d just shot the president and a police officer and the conversation that Jack Ruby had with the person who ordered the hit on Oswald. The story about Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick wasn’t badly done either. Still, as a person with a history degree, I’ve been taught not to try to rewrite or interpret history. My job is just to report history. It’s a bias, I know, so take it for what it’s worth to you.

I don’t think you’d be bored with The Black Opera, and if you’re a conspiracy theorist, then you’ve found part of your bible. 🙂

Faydra Deon
By Faydra Deon October 26, 2012 23:59
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