In Wired by the FBI the Author Glenn Painter has written a captivating tale taking the reader into the mind and heart of a notorious criminal. Christian Romano is just bad enough you can’t like him, but he has enough compassion and sense of moral code that you can’t hate him either. You end up watching the story of his life with an obsessed fascination, unsure of what constitutes justice or a happy ending.
What I enjoyed:
Glenn Painter does an excellent job of channeling the thoughts and feelings of a man most of us would be hard-pressed to understand. At its best, this tale provides those little details that make Christian human. His sorrow at his brother dying of aids. His love of Chicago. His bold willingness to take down a sadist, and his inability to comprehend cruelty for cruelty’s sake. Even his honesty about his own opportunism and his inability to resist seduction no matter how much he loves his current flame has something endearing about it. You don’t want to see the system squash him like a bug, because the author makes it clear how human he is.
What I struggled with:
Occasionally, the book seemed as if it was name dropping notorious criminals. Sometimes I got tired of the depressing descriptions of life in jail, and got frustrated with the main characters penchant for finding new trouble, or getting himself back into old trouble. I found the second half of the book more difficult than the first.
As the novel concluded, I realized the biggest problem it faced is that even though it is written like a work of fiction, the author is not writing a suspense thriller. He is giving a slightly fictionalized first person account of a real person’s life. He can’t bend reality into a story arc with redemption and a happy ending. Or with a hero’s tragic demise. Or with a bad guy getting his just desserts. Christian’s reality is far more complex than what we expect from fiction, and Glenn Painter is stuck with how it really happened. It isn’t particularly pretty.
To me, the books’ ending isn’t satisfying and at first I was baffled by why the author would invest so much time and energy into telling this story. Then I read his biography (which appears below) and it made more sense.
“He is an advocate for incarcerated individuals who have had their rights violated.”
Indeed, this is a story of such an individual. By the end of the book the reader knows the many ways a sometimes corrupt and often heartless system abused this man for its own often inconsistent ends. Sometimes, by his own admission, he got treated better than he deserved. More often, his freedom and his life were no more than a tool for law enforcement to use. Justice, fairness and even simple honesty were seldom part of the equation.
Every part of Christian Romano’s life may not be fun to read about, but I agree with the author that such stories need to be told.
About the Author:
Glenn has written this story from the notes by the man who actually lived it. However, extensive research was also require in order to make the story factual.
Glenn has also founded a company, ‘Prisoner Civil Right Services.’ He is an advocate for incarcerated individuals who have had their rights violated. He is in constant contact with these individuals, their families and the council. Most of his stories are inspired by ‘factual events’ that have happened to these individuals. This makes his stories both fiction and non-fiction.
Glenn says that writing is very challenging, and you must love the trials and tribulations that come with it. He believes that patience, perseverance and determination are required essentials to see a book through to being published. The journey is just as important as the destination.
For more about this book, and the review tour this review was part of, see Wired by the FBI.