A Righteous Killer: Blood Murder Betrayal by Ellace James
|A Righteous Killer: Blood Murder Betrayal by Ellace James|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This none-more-adult, but also quite childish, thriller features a priest, tortured into cleaning up a whole city of gangsters and drug dealers. It will be fine for those on board with the almost comic-book levels of violence and depravity.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 300||Date: January 2018|
In the crazy world of Arthur Brown, he can be standing at the altar giving his dutifully prepared sermon one minute, and wasting bad guys with his guns the next. What's inspired this? Two low-lifes, way from the top of the crime ladder in this particular city, who stole millions from a shady casino, and stashed the money in his basement. Two other lowlifes, working for the drug lord who owns the casino, come for the money, kill Arthur's family, and leave him so badly knifed on his floor that he's taken for dead when he's discovered. But he's not dead, and nor is his God-given hope to redress the balance in his town, and to right some very big wrongs. Yes, truly is he the god of hell fire, and he will take some men to burn…
There ends my riffing on the hero's name. What is much more important to say about this book is that it has a problem with its structure and style right from the off. It's written in the first person, from Father Brown's point of view. And that's a very awkward thing – he seems superheroically lucid when comatose from the knife attack and the loss of his family, and nothing makes us convinced this is the actual man talking to us. Similarly, he is able to say things like 'meanwhile, across town…' or 'three days ago…' and give us detailed depictions of scenes he would have no knowledge of, nor ways of finding out about. Right from the off the book intersperses a sermon with a dockside gang shooting, and the explosion of explanation marks and swear words is supposed to also be from the pen/voice of our hero.
His style, as it is, also dips deep into the pot of only-in-potboiler tropes. Descriptions of characters are limited at times to height and body build, and nothing else. I don't think I've ever read a book where the inches belonging to a character have mattered, unless it was a superlative amount. Everyone here seems to be judged on their make of car (all American marques, and so equally pointless for this reader). And while we're waiting – and waiting – for the revenge side of the plot to kick in, there is no end of nasty types leaning on those in power, double-crossing each other, and fighting for status in the ranks of drug dealers in (quite deliberately) OTT manner.
What is good about the book may actually be found in the depth of that side of things, however – the dark detail the author has come up with, such as drugs manoeuvred inside corpses, and so on. This is a black read at times, and no mistake. Also, I actually liked the nausea of Brown in his coma, as his shattered mind pieced together what had happened and what was needed to happen in the future – although, I repeat, this would be much more convincing in the third person. And it's that stylistic choice that makes me debate hardest over my rating for this read. If you're in the market for something with enough body parts and physical threat and harm to tip this towards the horror end of the thriller market, I dare say you'll easily be on board, and you won't mind that the author's poor exclamation mark button has been worn out. If you want all the machinations of a whole city's worth of drug dealers cutting each other out of the industry, then this is the book for you. If you want a subtle character piece, and all the authorial decisions to have come about through literary art, then turn away now. For me, I cannot deny the flaw I found in proceedings, nor can I deny the sheer relentlessly dark charge of the story. It's an incredibly gritty misfire, in my final verdict – yet a misfire that will appeal to the right audience greatly.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
A true horror/crime crossover can be had with The Chalk Man by C J Tudor.
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You can read more book reviews or buy A Righteous Killer: Blood Murder Betrayal by Ellace James at Amazon.com.
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