Wednesday, January 16, 2013

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: 'Shattered' presents interesting mystery -- but odd ending

I’m a big fan of those $5 mysteries you find in paperback at the front of most grocery stores.

I like a book with substance, don’t get me wrong, but I also like a book I can get lost in for three hours and be done with.

I thought that’s what I was getting with ‘Shattered,’ by British author Karl Jones. I was half right and half wrong.

First off, ‘Shattered’ is the first in a new series by Jones, following one of the central law enforcement figures in the book – Donna Harp.

The book opens strongly, setting a solid mystery and making the central “victim” of the book somewhat unlikeable. I applaud that. Instead of making the teenage girl some sort of angel, Jones painted her with a realistic brush.

I like that the book had a gritty feel. The violence was harsh, and the descriptions were somewhat crude. That made the mystery feel like it was grounded in reality.

As an American, I also liked reading a book set in another country. It makes the places and law enforcement details that much more entertaining – mostly because I haven’t read them before.

Still, the law enforcement officials – especially Harp – make some fairly dumb decisions that I don’t think real police officers would make. And, as the central heroine, Harp herself is fairly vapid as a character. I was much more interested in one of the suspects – Jason Denton. He had a more realistic vibe to him.

As a woman I, of course, gravitate to strong heroines. Harp is painted as a strong heroine, but it was almost as if she was written by someone that doesn’t understand how a woman really thinks so Donna Harp doesn't feel like she's been created in a realistic world.

The ending of the mystery was a surprise, but I can’t decide if it’s because it was a good choice for the final culprit or because it came so far out of left field it couldn’t be anything but shocking. While I liked the ultimate choice, I don’t think the motive given was strong enough.

Also, the ending of the book is so jarring that I found myself looking for the rest of the book and coming up empty.

Ultimately, I’m a big fan of the mystery itself but I was really turned off by the typos.

At first, I pushed off a lot of the jarring grammar issues because of the foreign language barrier. It became increasingly clear early on, though, that the grammar problems were evident in both languages. In other words, this book could use a good copy editor to catch certain problems.

Still, it was a fun read, and I would recommend it to crime enthusiasts.

 'Shattered' is available for $2.99 on Kindle and $9.99 in paperback.


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