Thursday, December 16, 2010
Book Review: "Bitter Legacy" by H. Terrell Griffin
Full disclosure, here, folks. Oceanview Publishing sent me an advance review copy of H. Terrell Griffin's Bitter Legacy, a December 20, 2010 release. The 360 page novel is the fifth "Matt Royal Mystery" for the author. Though I had not read any of the previous books in the series, I did not feel lost or left behind.
Florida's Gulf Coast is as much a character in this book as Matt Royal, so if you've spent time there, you'll appreciate the vivid descriptions of place in this book. The main character, Matt Royal, is a now retired special ops military dude who later dabbled as a trial lawyer. Now he drinks beer and goes fishing with his buds, except for when he's trying to avoid getting killed. Someone is trying to eliminate Matt and his friend Logan, but they have no idea why. Matt puts his military experience to good use by picking off bad guys who are trying to off him.
From the beginning, the pacing is very quick and the action is intense. Matt is a man's man, to be sure. He seems to be the type to sample the chick du jour, and in this book, Matt takes an interest in a new detective to the island, J.D. Duncan. Matt's time is consumed, however, with trying to figure out why he and his friend are targets. He eventually finds a link between the target on his back and Florida's Seminole Indians and their past dealings with the United States government. The reader gets an interesting history lesson in the region's native population and their link to African American slaves.
From a reader's perspective, Bitter Legacy was a fast read filled with action, and would make a nice gift for a manly man. That said, coming from a woman's perspective, the book was certainly not unpalatable for a gal's taste, either. The main character is able to get in touch with his feelings on brief occasions, though there's not much time for emotion when you're trying to avoid being killed.
From a writer's perspective, my eye was a bit more critical, though it did not ruin the experience. The book was written in both first and third person, which was a little discombobulating for me. Some chapters were written from the main character's perspective, and all others were written in third person. Additionally, some chapters were very short, only a couple pages. There were a few chapters like this that could have been eliminated because they did not further the plot or reveal the unraveling mystery.
Further, there were some editorial hiccups that made me stop reading from time-to-time so I could figure out if what I was seeing was error or purposeful. For example, the book is organized into events that occur on each day for a week. The book starts on a Saturday, which is made quite clear because an entire page is devoted to just the word "Saturday" before chapter one even begins. However, in the second paragraph of chapter one, the following sentence appears: "It was Friday, and there was a hint of expectancy lingering in the thin spring air, relief that another week was about over, that the weekend beckoned." A nice sentence overall, save for the confusion in time. I also noticed the spelling of a minor character's name spelled two different ways.
There were good things about the writing, too. The author is masterful at painting the scenery, and does a good job with plotting. The main character is someone you grow to care about, which is always a plus in a novel!
Since Fiction Flurry is mainly a writing blog, I felt the duty to offer a review of the writing as well as of the reading. Regardless, for a quick read over this holiday break, it would make a good gift for an action-loving guy in your life.
Come back next week for a chance to win a copy of Bitter Legacy by H. Terrell Griffin!