This is the first indie book I received in exchange for an honest review that has made it to a review on the blog.
Excuse two posts in a day, but I wanted to be as timely as my book review policy promises.
I want to start by saying while I do enjoy a thriller, this is not the usual kind of book that I would pick up. It sucked me in.
This book teased and danced with my curiosity. Honestly, I had a hard time liking any of the characters save for a few because they are mostly crazy wealthy, entitled, privileged and self centered. But I wanted to know what happened went down to get these people to where they were now, with Frederick Starks, (Starks) a guy in prison after confronting one of his estranged wife Kayla’s lovers, the estranged wife pregnant with some other guy’s kid, and a best friend Jeffrey caught in the middle. Clerge teases you with snippets of the backstory through conversations between characters and in therapy. Therapy is a great way to expose teasers of backstory because only parts of the story are revealed, and of course only the self serving ones, in the beginning. And then, as the true story starts to come together, he throws in a big twist that puts the final nail in the coffin of the old Starks. The book ends as the new Starks is transforming. I am curious about where the story came from but also where Starks is planning on going from here.
I also liked the use of the prison setting. The constant drama, the dubious and shaky alliances, always at the brink of eat or be eaten, both from the other prisoners and the guards. It seemed realistic, not that I have ever been in prison to know, but it seems that the author found a way to do his research about this setting to make it work.
A word about Starks: I kept mixing him up with Tony Stark from IronMan and seeing him in my mind’s eye as Robert Downey Jr. It could have been intended. I went back and forth between liking him and not. He has redeeming qualities: he is generous and kind. He is meticulous, orderly, and tidy. He is a born leader but learns from getting knocked down a peg. Where I struggled with Starks was his rigid views and double standards between women and men. He is very entitled. He can do what he wants, but his wife is supposed to sit in her pretty castle twiddling her thumbs and going to pilates while he has his affairs with whomever he pleases. He is controlling and sets ultimatums: he will only supply her with her phone if he can go through it at any time. I may be weird but my husband has never looked through my phone and it is locked because I work where kids could get their hands on my phone. I don’t touch his phone either. If that changed I would re assess my marriage. Anyway. He has a pretty new girlfriend but it is not okay that his estranged wife has someone else in her home. She is supposed to be a virgin and his claim on her this way is unapologetic. I don’t like that at all. Not that his wife Kayla is a sympathetic character though either. I found her less appealing, but the story does not go into her head in this volume. She tells people her version of what went on and their relationship is reported from Starks’ perspective, but not yet hers. I wonder if that is coming.
Favorite character? His third cellmate. No spoilers though.
I also have been wondering if the details of the assault that led to the sentence will also be forthcoming. See what I said? I am still wondering.
A final note is that I like how he portrayed the therapy sessions in the book. As a therapist I struggle when the dialog is stilted or stereotyped in media. Communication can sound stilted in a therapy session, because there is a degree of educating going on, but I am glad the therapist is a regular guy who cares and makes mistakes too that he is accountable for. He pushes Starks a lot in session to examine his role in the marriage, which sometimes Starks starts to admit and take responsibility for his part, but sometimes when he is pushed in session, he does not. The therapist pushes more than I generally do, but realistic text from early therapy sessions is sometimes slow and not useful to plot development. A guy like Starks probably needs a lot more sessions of denial and justification of his actions before he could get to where he is in the story in his sessions.
I see from Amazon that the second installment, When the Dragon Roars, is already available. I can’t pick it up immediately because I may have over committed myself to completing three reading challenges.
Comments/Likes/Shares are always appreciated!