Code of Conduct

Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 4, 2000

Code of Conduct by Kristine Smith

Ten people attended the discussion of Code of Conduct. This book, a first novel, is a space opera espionage thriller. Its protagonist is a middle-aged female spy who helps a former lover investigate the mysterious circumstances of his wife’s death.

Most of us liked the book. We liked reading an SF spy novel, a type of book that isn’t very common these days. The plot had interesting twists. The protagonist’s personality was developed deeply, with a well thought out depiction of the loneliness and alienation of a spy. Also, many appreciated the author’s realistic touches in showing the aches and pains of a woman in her forties. The author avoided several common first-novel mistakes, such as long information dumps.

It must be pointed out that all of the people in our group who liked this book were women. Of the three men who attended this discussion, only one was able to finish it and he could remember nothing about the book. Strangely, what kept the guys from enjoying the book had nothing to do with the author’s gender. They all just found Smith’s prose style hard to read, and they found the story and characters weren’t sufficiently compelling to keep reading.

Even those who generally enjoyed the book found a few flaws with it. Most of us found Smith’s prose style in describing action scenes to be confusing, and there were several passages we had to read several times to puzzle out what was going on. One person took detailed notes of the various plot points while reading the book, and at the end she found that the story did not all add up. The motivations of some of the supporting characters didn’t always make sense.

Overall we found this to be an interesting but flawed first novel.

–A. T. Campbell, III