Top critical review
Lots of clutter in the way of a potentially great story
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2014
Nice whodunit set in southern Indiana, with a good mix of characters. I must admit I had the 'mystery' all figured out about 15% in, not only the 'who' but the motive as well. Although this definitely has a 'first novel' feel to it, there are enough good things that kept me reading. But I would be remiss if I didn't point out some of the things that just had me shaking my head.
First, we're never told the age of Gabriel (or perhaps I missed it). Sometimes he acted as though he was in his 60's, other times in his 40's, and other times as though he was in his 20's.
Secondly, the repeated overuse of superfluous adjectives upon seeing his wife was downright embarrassing. Every single time Betty was mentioned we were deluged with a plethora of over-the-top accolades of adoration. Those assorted paragraphs read as if they were written by someone else, as the writing style simply did not fit in with the rest of the writing throughout the book.
Thirdly, coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee. The word coffee shows up no less than 80 times in a 250 page book, averaging out to once every three pages as we were reminded of Gabriel's love of coffee. For some reason, the author felt the need to let us know each and every time Gabriel stopped and got himself a cup. Which was pretty much every time he stood up.
Unfortunately too much filler like that pollutes this book, such as when the author spends almost four full pages describing the breakfast Gabriel is making for that super-duper, awesomely intelligent, wonderfully beautiful, sparkly-eyed wife of his. Moving along, not only is this book chock-full of misused homophones (i.e. 'grizzly' scene instead of 'grisly'), but there are numerous other glaring 'oops' as well. A few examples...Glocks do not have a safety, front-wheel drive cars do not 'fishtail', and the time when the officer couldn't figure out by himself that there are no thorn bushes in the middle of a paved road.
Now, despite all my petty annoyances listed above, I readily admit I really liked the story and the characters, and wanted to finish reading this book. Truth be told, the ending of this book stunned me by how emotional and powerful the writing was. Even though it sets the stage for book #2, there is enough closure to provide a satisfactory conclusion to book #1. My overall feeling is that underneath all the awkward clutter, there is something good happening here, and I still feel it's worth at least three stars. With a real editor, more proofreading, and less picturesque speech, this book would be very good.