The Past Never Ends
by Jackson Burnett
In a bustling Oklahoma city, attorney Chester Morgan enjoys his law practice, treats his clients better than other attorneys would, and just wants to see justice done. Weeks after finding the corpse of a prosperous and honest-as-the-day-is-long oilman in the YMCA pool, Morgan is caught up in another enigmatic case, the death of a stripper/hooker in the desperate side of town. The problem: nobody in authority will tell him anything about the death. So, Morgan starts investigating and discovers the sleazy side of life, from dirty cops to a mother who pimps her daughter. And what do the tenuous connections to the oilman’s death mean?
I like the plot. I thought it an interesting mystery with several layers. I wished for more action, more tension, more danger. Burnett provided the clues in a tantalizing manner and I was intrigued enough to want to read the solution.
Chester Morgan: attorney in Vivia, OK, divorced, graduated University of Oklahoma law, has a slew of catch phrases, doesn’t use a computer, has a sister
Alan Kinman: 24, owns a lawn mowing service, gaunt, acne, muddy water colored hair, sunburned, wears glasses, tattoo on his right hand, squeaky voice
Jeff McNally: police officer
Tamar White: drives a white Lincoln, overweight, bleached blonde hair, translucent skin, dark blue cold eyes, smokes, light freckles on face, pimped out her daughter
A lot of interesting characters. Each has his/her uniqueness. Burnett has put a lot of ‘character’ into his characters…sometimes…sometimes a bit too much. Not too much, but just a little over the top but it’s not too bad. The problem I find with these characters is because of that extra ‘little bit’ they seem off, not quite 100% believable. Close, but…just off and that bothered me. Plus, I wanted to see more of some and less of others.
Not fluid. Morgan wants to wax philosophical or get poetic about the law at times and it’s not natural. Other voices are fine, distinctive.
Not sure what year this is set in but in one scene it mentions the World Trade Center buildings still standing. Varying lengths of chapters. At times the phrasing and the flow tries to harken back to detective stories of the forties or fifties but can’t sustain that atmosphere. It sounds forced. It tries too hard. Burnett unnecessarily uses both names or a title with the name sometimes after introducing a character. Or repeating a location to remind you of the location. Or repeating a personality trait. Doing this only adds words and it detracts from the story. For instance the landlord yells a lot. Okay, fine, but once the reader knows this, the author doesn’t need to keep inserting reminders. Unnecessary tag lines and confusing add ons. (…she said, argued. Or …he asked, stated). Occasional profanity. Misspelled names or words. (Burnett constantly talks about statutes of people instead of statues. This is just a miss by both author and editor.) Punctuation errors.
The plot was good. The rest I found wanting. The foundation was solid but the layers on top were too shaky and only the interesting characters barely kept this from falling below: