Tag Archives: reviews

A Matter of Will – book review

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas&Mercer for the electronic advance copy. This book is slated for release this summer.

Before I go in, a side note: this is an uncorrected proof. I’m not sure if whoever edits these titles reads the feedback, but please, for the love of anything you hold holy, correct the instances of “shelf company” to “shell company”. I’ve never read anything else by this author, so have no comparisons to earlier works of his.

Will Matthews is a not-so-successful broker (or “wealth manager”) at a finance company – so unsuccessful that he gets dumped on by his boss on an almost daily basis and worries he will be fired at any moment. Enter Sam and Eve, who he meets at a hockey game. Before he knows what has hit him, Sam is sweeping Will off his feet, taking him to lavish dinners, tuxedo-required parties, and parking tens of millions of dollars with him for investing. He basically buys Will a ten million dollar apartment, and makes him sign off as a director of or participant in various shell companies.

Meanwhile, Gwen is a young attorney added to the team defending a Hollywood star, who has allegedly killed his wife. Will and Gwen meet up via a dating app, have a dinner, and another date. They wind up as a couple – it’s true love for both of them.

There’s no real way to go through the rest without spoilers, so I’ll leave it at: everything is not as it seems, and soon after that, Will and Gwen have to start thinking about their very survival, both professionally and personally.

The good: it’s easy enough to read. The author doesn’t wander off into incomprehensible jargon associated with his own profession (law) when some courtroom/lawyer scenes come up. Will is given a fairly good backstory. There’s some infodumping, given as dialogue instead of a wall of text.

The bad: I’m sorry to say I found it to be a weird mashup of The Firm and Wall Street and When Harry Met Sally. Will is so naive as to be implausible, and apparently it doesn’t sound any alarms to him that some random guy he meets wants to invest a fortune with him. .Even worse, the first 50% of the book is very dull throughout this. Not once does Will question anything, and the first half is just Will and Gwen going about their respective businesses.. It looks like the author couldn’t decide on what kind of book it should be, so included everything, and that swamped the entire book. Also: using the actual John Yoo in this? Not good.

The remainder of the book involves some murders, a bit of cat and mouse, and asks the reader to believe that the kingpin of a gigantic criminal organization would tell even the new nominal leader of it about plans, the evidence being held over their head, or allow that person to remain alive, knowing that person is not all in and is hesitant about roping in another young broker, among other things. We then get swept over once more to the legal bit playing out on Gwen’s side, which does nothing for the story. She, too, winds up appearing to be a tad too naive, and the ending is simply far too convenient, wrapping up all the details.

If this book were by an as yet unpublished author, and they submitted it as it is, that author would remain unpublished. It would be fine as a plane or beach read, but I would not recommend it.

Lazy Sunday

It rained.

Not enough to create any major issues or flood any part of the property. Enough to give all the plants what they need. And just enough to make it a pain in the ass to do anything in the gardens. There are many things that need to be done – as there always are – but Mother Nature was apparently sending me a message. Got it.

Since the outside world could wait until tomorrow – where would it go, really? – I spent the day doing work work and reading. I read two today: another in the Cork O’Connor series by William Kent Krueger, and the first of another series by Inger Wolf, a Danish author.

Those of you who read the olde blogge know that I had also been reading the Alex McKnight books by Steve Hamilton as well, switching between those and the Cork O’Connor books. I finished the last (for right now) of the McKnight series last night. He has another coming out in a few months. Overall, I’d say the books are worth reading, although there are some uneven notes in the series – that is, some strain credulity a bit too far. One of the books was just silly and not very good, but I did finish it, as I finished all the rest. On average, on a scale of five, I’d rate the series at about a 3.5. The McKnight character is just sometimes a little too stupid for someone who was previously a cop (in Detroit) for eight years. The supporting characters and the setting are all well drawn, and except for the really unbelievable plot in one of the books, are generally grounded and not complete idiots.

The Cork O’Connor books are good, with several I’d give a five star rating. There are a few instances where the stories get iffy, but on the whole, Cork isn’t an idiot blundering his way through whatever circumstances the stories contain. The next one on my Fire is number eleven, Northwest Angle, and based on the description hearkens back to events in a previous book. As I’ve not yet started it, I don’t know that for certain, but if it is, it should be interesting.

The other book I read today is Dark September by Inger Wolf. The start is good: a dead woman, in the woods, naked and spreadeagled, with a bouquet of hemlock on her chest. The main character is Daniel Trokic(s) (TRO-kitch), a Croatian-Danish homicide investigator. The description on Amazon gives an s to his last name, but in the book, there isn’t one. The formatting for the ebook is good except for transitions. There are many where the first sentence of a new paragraph is jammed up against the last line of the previous one, and there is no indentation. This made some sections of the book confusing. None of the characters are really fully formed, in my opinion, and the Lisa character – joining homicide after working in cybercrime (pedophiles, child sexual abuse) – seems a tad hysterical toward the end. There is also a good dose of saidisms at the end, with “shouted”, “spat”, etc. Tip for authors: if you put an exclamation point at the end of something, that’s a pretty good indicator that the character is shouting. You don’t have to tell us, and you especially don’t need to have them say something else and tag that with another saidism (like spat).

The story itself is not very engaging. It read like someone was talking it out – that is, reading it was like listening to someone saying, “This happened, then this happened, then that…” and so on. The author also tosses music group names into the mix, but does not describe some of them, so it is not apparent what kind of music Trokic actually likes unless you know those groups or feel like looking them up. The ending was rather abrupt, and (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) there is no way the main character would be out, working, with what would probably be a grade four concussion, after getting banged in the head badly enough to need stitches. He also tends to be the cliched one man show kind of guy, going off to do things without informing his team about what he’s doing or where he’s going. He also tends to turn off his cell phone, which is just not believable for someone in charge of a team investigating not one, not two, but three murders. Although the series is tagged with Trokic’s name, I’d say only about half of the chapters are following him around. The others have Lisa as the main viewpoint character.

On a scale of five, I’d give this one a two. My default rating when I’m doing reviews is a one, just for writing the thing. If the writing isn’t truly atrocious, I’ll give another. If the story holds together enough, that garners a higher rating. This one book, I’ll rate at a 2.5. The story is there, and it does pin together somewhat even when people are doing stupid things. The next book in the series (for English markets, I believe) is Frost and Ashes. I say this because the description of the book says it’s book three, but the title and tag say two. Whatever the case, the three books that are available in the series from Amazon are on Kindle Unlimited, so the only investment I’ll be making is the time to read them. We shall see if book two holds together enough to go to book three.

For now, though, it’s back to Cork. Until next time, peeps: be well.