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Bait: A Novel Paperback – August 27, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (August 27, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142180254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142180259
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Bait:

“Reading J. Kent Messum’s Bait is like taking a high dive into black water. What you find in its murky depths is disturbing, pulse-pounding and utterly surprising. An exhilarating debut.” –Megan Abbott, Edgar-Award-winning author of Dare Me  
“The stakes could be no higher in this crisply written, fast-paced novel that examines the shifting line between right and wrong, good and evil.  Bait will keep readers turning pages late into the night.”
Lori Roy, Edgar-Award-winning author of Bent Road and Until She Comes Home 
"Jaws meets Lord of the Flies meets Drugstore Cowboy! A powerhouse debut. The horror dawns on the reader as it dawns on the characters, making for a mesmerizing, one-sitting read." - Steve Ulfelder, Edgar-Award finalist author of Purgatory Chasm and The Whole Lie

About the Author

J. Kent Messum is an author and a musician, and always bets on the underdog. He lives in Toronto with his wife, dog, and three cats.

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Customer Reviews

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beta: what do you think?
  • "Action" 7
  • "Characters" 5
  • "Writing" 5
  • "Emotional" 3
  • "Funny" 1
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Laurence J. Coven on September 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
It starts with the Prologue. Well, where else would you put the prologue? So far so good.
A man is desperately swimming for his life. Trying to get to an island that lies just ahead. Behind him he can hear the hideous screams of his companions. They haven't done so well, but he tells himself he can make it, he knows he can. Then comes the first bump from something in the water. Then another. The something is big. He notices his right leg is not propelling him as strongly as it should. There is blood. His right foot is gone. He swims on determinedly. Then the left foot is gone. Not good. Apparently he does not have the resolve of the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who had virtually every appendage of his body lost in his battle, and yet never would give in. That was classic black comedy. This is not. Anyway, for our swimmer two feet is the limit. He disappears under the water, presumably to become shark food. "Nearby, beer bottles clinked, cigars burned, and significant money exchanged hands."
The next section is headed "Now". Just so you know, the story will be constantly flashing back, flashing forward, whatever. But not to worry the heading will always basically let us know where we are on the timeline.
The Premise: That's my heading, not his. In Miami, six junkies, two women and four men of varying age and ethnicity are captured knocked out and dumped on an island, probably in the Florida Keys. Eventually they come to. They are all strangers. What has happened to us?,they wonder. Wouldn't you? One of them actually says he thinks they're on an island in the Florida Keys to which Nash, the smartest one cleverly replies, "no s***, Sherlock". Gee you never know where a Sherlockian might turn up. Felix is an older grizzled black guy--a tough guy who used to be a fighter.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has an interesting premise, but it has some serious flaws. The six strangers awakening on a desert island all prove to be heroin addicts brought there by mysterious circumstances. A note tells them that more heroin and incidentally food and water lie on an island across a mile of shark infested water. The action switches back and forth between the past and present of each captive. As the book continues with the same technique with their captors. The problem is that I didn't like any of them.

Each back story had pathos, but revealed in a desultory way. More to the point, the author fails to explain their descent into rock bottom addiction with any depth or even accuracy. The process is more complex, and the addict usually has more dimension remaining. The metaphor for the delights of a heroin high is a worm of pleasure squirming in the brain. From speaking with dozens of addicts, I do not think this is accurate. As a person with no experience of heroin, the metaphor is repulsive. There is no enticement in the metaphor of a worm to explain the delights that cause addiction to heroin to be so strong.

We are given the story of the captors later in the book. Without spoilers, I can only say that their back story is one of tragedy, but doesn't prove their repulsive actions. In fact, I feel the book is an insult to other people with their experience.

Even the action sequences seem to drag for some unknown reason. I mean sharks are going to eat these people. The author describes their terror but somehow feels at at a remove.Perhaps it is the lack of dimensionality of the characters that ruins the action. Visions of hungry sharks are too common to incite in and of themselves. All in all this is a greatly disappointing book with a great premise that doesn't deliver for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tracy belinda on November 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fun, fast summer read. The kind of book you can't put down but won't remember forever, which is sometimes exactly what's called for. Worth reading for light entertainment.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany A. Harkleroad TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
Six strangers wake up on an island, not knowing how they got there, nor how they will get off the island. It does not take them much time to realize they are all junkies, fiending for their next fix. They find a box containing a small amount of food and a letter explaining that there is more food and drugs on the next island. But as the group attempts to make it to the next island, they find the water is teeming with peril.

You know within the first few pages that this is not going to be your average thriller. This book means business. Sex, drugs, betrayal, violence, there is absolutely nothing dull in this story. The plot rockets from the very beginning. While the premise of the story is a little appalling, that is the very thing that keeps you glued to it. The situation is so horrific, but like a traffic accident you just cannot look away.

What surprised me most was the amount of character development for the six primary characters. Despite the fact that the book is relatively short, and mostly focuses on plot, the character development was super, and woven into the story seamlessly. In very little time, you found yourself actually seeing the characters as people (even if they are unsavory) and wanting to know what happens to them. That amount of character development is so rare in action based stories, so I found it really well done.

All in all, this book is an intense read, not for the faint of heart. It is violent and graphic, but in a way that completely serves the story. Still, if you have a weak stomach, be forewarned. This book is probably most appropriate for adult readers, and perhaps not something you want to read at the beach. Personally, I really loved the style and the story; well done.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.
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