We’re going to take a break from the One Book Interview series for a book review. I have a few more of these in the pipeline and may make it a regular feature. That depends on whether my two little Time Thieves (AKA The Sleep Snatcher and The Patience Pilferer) let me.
First up is Jason Parent’s latest novel A Life Removed.
Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way first:
1 – I received a free copy of the book. Since finishing it, I have bought a copy. (Support your authors, folks, if you don’t they won’t be many of us left before long.)
2 – Confessions of a Reviewer who are organising this for Jason are also organising a promo tour for my latest book.
Neither of those have influenced my review and what follows is an honest opinion.
So, before we get to the review, what’s it about?
Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette have put plenty of criminals behind bars. But a new terror is stalking their city. The killer’s violent crimes are ritualistic but seemingly indiscriminate. As the death toll rises, the detectives must track a murderer without motive. The next kill could be anyone… maybe even one of their own.
Officer Aaron Pimental sees no hope for himself or humanity. His girlfriend is pulling away, and his best friend has found religion. When Aaron is thrust into the heart of the investigation, he must choose who he will become, the hero or the villain.
If Aaron doesn’t decide soon, the choice will be made for him.
And here’s the review –
A gruesome tale that reads like a true crime story.
This book has all the elements of a great murder/ police procedural drama: the cynical veteran who is great at his job but no so good with people; the enthusiastic rooky; a serial killer who is as disturbed as (s)he is intelligent; religion and cults; and a spectrum of messed up individuals.
The descriptions of the scenes and actions are detailed. At times this (and the blood!) gives the book the feel of a Tarantino movie. The slow reveal of the characters’ histories is great and helps explain their motivations. The characters are believable. Some are likeable, others less so, one (a fairly central character to the story) I found utterly annoying. The downside is that that particular character is everywhere, the upside is that provoking an emotional reaction in a reader is always a good sign.
As regards the ‘whodunnit factor’, you can work out who the culprits are fairly early on. I know this is not to everyone’s tastes, but I liked having this knowledge while the main characters stumble their way to the truth. (Being omnipotent is highly recommended!) It adds a nice perspective to the story and led to a few moments when I wanted to shout at the pages ‘he’s behind you!’
Downsides? Not many. There were a few moments when it felt like the author was explaining things to me, rather than letting the story speak for itself. There were also a couple of sections when the characters were talking about art & history that felt a little forced. The reason why the killers do what they do with what they take from their victims (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here) could have been explained more, and the sudden switch of one of the main character’s personalities could have been more gradual.
But overall, as long as you don’t mind gore and twisted minds, this is a great read and it had me hooked from the quarter-way mark.
It was released May 23, 2017. You can pick up a copy of A Life Removed online wherever books are sold (Amazon US link provided). And if you’re interested in reading the words behind the words, i.e. what Jason reads when he’s not writing, you can check out his interview below.
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