So Lawrence O’Bryan guest blogged on my blog. He’s a thriller writer and you can find him on his own blog here. Don’t take my word for it, go and see it for yourself.
Moving on to the book review.
Why did I buy this book? I’ll be honest, I wanted to do some research on some real-life people so that I could use elements of them and what they had done to make some of the characters in my novel more 3D (in other words, more human). It was the blurb and the detailled description of the book on Amazon that made me want to buy it. But as you might already know, these two things aren’t all that books are really cracked up to be.
As ever on here, I will keep it balanced and constructive in my critique of the book, but as with the book, it may be fairly obvious from the outset how I feel about this.
Let’s start with the not so pleasant points first so I can try and end this blog post on a positive note.
Firstly, even though it was written by a woman, there is an awful lot of unneccessary mansplaining. As I read through this book, I realised that if this book had been edited down without the waffling, the book would be at least a third of the size.
Secondly, there was some bias to the story. As a journalist, she could have had more interviews with the suspect’s family, but as the suspect sent a vitriolic letter to the author about the book there would have been some difficulty in bringing that to fruition. I’ll explain this point a little more later on. This is what happens when you encounter someone with a large ego, they try to squash the world on the top of your head. There’s also the right to privacy with the author has to respect.
Thirdly, at times I felt like the book was a little too predictable and it made me feel rather bored. It became an effort to keep reading and I don’t usually force myself to carry on with books like this but I thought I’d hear the author out. There’s a reason why those who write thriller/suspense books with plots that are quite fast-paced, all the stuff in between is a drag and a turn-off. Before you lose your temper with me ladies and gents, I know this was a real-life case and it was horrific in every possible way, but the story could have been sped up at least.
Fourthly, as mentionned earlier, with a book like this and thus a certain amount of vitriol from the individual accused of this crime, and the impatience and injustice from the perspective of the author (because it took so long in sentencing him) there was an impressive amount of hatred. As someone who tries to keep a balanced view of things, I don’t condone this vibe at all, but you would think that as a journalist Bricker would give her conclusion at the end. Sometimes, especially at the very beginning of the book, there was a feeling of being repeatedly walloped by the author with a this-is-my-opinion-of-what-happened-and-you-will-believe-me type of attitude. I’m not sure the whole idea of journalism is meant to work like that. I’d rather be given the facts than feel like that.
There are an equal amount of positives to the negatives, so I’ll just carry on.
Firstly, despite the beginning of the book (have I mentionned that?) clearly pointing the finger at a guilty man (and rightly so), there was a slightly balanced picture of who the suspect was. He was a good person to be around and made people feel good about themselves.
Secondly, there was a sympathetic view of Julie pre and post decease. If you ever venture to read this book, you’ll find out that she wasn’t naive and repeatedly questionned the cause of her illnesses with her doctors. She can’t be stupid, she was a nurse so I’d almost come to expect this when given this fact.
Thirdly, (and most importantly) there was a good insight into who we think we know versus the slow realisation of who certain individuals really are. We are all human and we all have flaws, but some take advantage of these flaws and do things which are both a detriment to others and themselves. With people like the suspect, they often have two very different personalities or at least they are portrayed as such. This makes the revelation for those who considered themselves friends of the couple and of the suspect, all the more shocking because they genuinely thought they knew him. I can imagine how they must have all felt when the suspect had taken them all for a ride and it had all crashed down around them. Even his own family felt like this.
Fourthly, the psychology of individuals like the suspect is always intriguing and makes for an interesting read when I am researching characters for the novels I want to write. The difference is that in person (unless you have a strong intuition that said person is dodgy as) individuals are more frightening because you get sucked into their life and it’s only when you get stuck in their life that you find out who they are and dream of escaping.
That’s all for now, until the next book review.