By Jackson Spencer Bell
Kevin Swanson is having problems. In February, he killed two home invaders. Months later, while on a radio talk show, a strange caller disputes his story. From that moment, his life goes awry because he starts analyzing the series of events, all the while other events plague him. He’s involved in other crimes, playing the hero. But what is the truth? What was the real story? And who is the Bald Man?
This is a strange story that gets stranger by the page. More than a bit surreal, this one is different from the other ‘memory loss’ tales.
Kevin Swanson: 36, lawyer, has a teenage daughter, has an older Marine brother, owns an AK-47, dark thinning hair, grew up in North Carolina, father-dead-was a heart surgeon, mother-dead-was an alcoholic, owns a BMW, took martial arts as a youth
Allie Swanson: Kevin’s wife, walnut colored hair, wears glasses
Craig Montero: Kevin’s lawyer
Robert Koenig: psychologist, thin, graduate of Emory University and Georgia University, wears glasses, beard stubble, bald
Billy Horton: broadcaster, overweight, messy gray/white hair, married
Brandon Cross: 24, mentally retarded, was physically and sexually abused as a youth,
A couple minor characters use the same expression or is said to use the same expression as other characters. I think part of this can be chalked up to being part of the plot, but it maybe could have been done with less ‘obviousness’.
I found Kevin’s brother, Bobby, a little over the top. Yes, he’s an in-your-face military guy, but, especially the scene where he talks about getting mugged was a bit much. Ditto with Kevin’s conversations with the Bald Man or when faced with a desperate situation. I realize that he explains his ‘condition’ but it was a little unbelievable. Much of the profanity used in the conversations were unnecessary.
Written first person from Swanson’s POV. Profanity. Quick read. The first part of the book is mostly flashback material which, while it’s okay to use, it needs to be used sparingly. I wanted to get into some good action quicker. For much of the first third or so of the book there is a lot of flashbacks in Koenig’s office. Some misspelled words. The action scenes are quick and decisive.
However…an author shouldn’t leave his reader confused as to what the truth is. Yes, there are stories which leave you with a cliffhanger, which leave you guessing as to what might happen next but the story is, for the most part, wrapped up and explained. In this book, I thought I knew what was happening, but at the end, I really didn’t, especially about a specific incident with his wife at the very end. I was confused after the last page and while I can accept some twist and surprises, this time I didn’t understand.
Maybe this has to do with the characters and maybe this part should be in the character section because certain parties don’t act as they do in this book. Police have rules and guidelines and procedures and it wasn’t believable how they reacted to Kevin’s involvement with crime. I don’t want to play spoiler other than to say, their reactions-could?-be part of the overall plot and story. However, I think this area as well as others could have been subtler, more shaded, thereby adding strength to the writing and the story. Because I was confused at the end, this area only added to the confusion. I really enjoyed the plot and the mental games were wonderfully conceived. Because of the concerns mentioned, though, I can’t go higher than: