This was one of my Dominican Vacation reads. As I read so many books this week, I will be doing a more compact review so I can catch up. A Killer Debut - 4 Stars
The novel is set in the cold and quiet streets of Duluth, Minnesota. These are not the mean streets of Detroit and major crime is not an everyday occurrence. A year after the mysterious disappearance of a teenaged girl, the Detective Jonathan Stride is faced with another disappearance that is eerily similar. The investigation reveals secrets buried deep within his city with an investigation that begins in "wholesome" streets of Duluth to the "immoral" streets of Las Vegas. The Good
Brian Freeman wrote a very impressive debut novel. Immoral was nominated for several prestigious award for best debut and rightly so. The story is sharply written with a wonderfully developed main character.
In my opinion, it is the wonderfully delicious development of the VICTIM that sets this novel apart. (I apologize if that sounds creepy but it is an apt description :) The second of missing girls and main victim is Rachel Deese. She is beautiful, intelligent, sexually promiscuous and all around devious. She relishes is playing with emotion and hurting those close to her. I cannot recall another novel where the victim was less likeable. As descriptions suggest, we are left guessing as to whether our victim has kidnapped and murdered or if she is playing a game. The novel resolves the questions but not in the way you expect. I found myself rooting against the victim and hoping she dead. Maybe this makes me a bad person or a psychological need for revenge against those "mean girls" from my high school days. While the novel may have exposed a need for a psychiatric evaluation, it was a thrilling and satisfying read. The Bad
Sex was theme that woven throughout the novel. While there were several sexual encounters that were not graphic, the theme is pervasive. I found that usage was often unnecessary as it didn't take long to the get the point.
The major problem with the novel is that is seemingly has two lives. There is a shift in time (three years or so into the future) that occurs about 2/3 of the way into the book. The author builds characters and relationships and summarily destroys some of the them over the course of break in time. For me, it was a frustrating misuse of characters and I felt that it detracted from the story. As new relationships were added in the last third, the story lost a sense of cohesion that had been so tightly maintained. While the break in time makes sense for the story, the break in continuity turned a potential masterpiece of a first novel into a very good debut.
Overall, the story was excellent, the writing was clean and the pacing was fast. Jonathan Stride is a compelling and interesting character. The ending of novel poses some interesting questions for the character and leaves him to make some difficult decisions. So major changes could be in store for book 2 and I look forward to continuing this series.