- Paperback: 274 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (May 8, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1442173084
- ISBN-13: 978-1442173088
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,481,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Felonious Jazz: a novel Paperback – May 8, 2009
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Bryan Gilmer has made his living as a writer for more than 15 years, working first as a night-shift crime reporter for a Southern newspaper before advancing to Florida's largest paper, the Pulitzer-prizewinning St. Petersburg Times. Now he teaches newswriting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writes for institutional and corporate clients in addition to his fiction. He lives with his wife, Kelly, and their son, Quinn, in Durham, North Carolina. Visit his website at bryangilmer.com and join his Facebook group, Suburban Burglars Alliance.
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Top customer reviews
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Most of the actual writing is pretty smooth, but the author does have a tendency towards some rather long and sloppy sentences which often ends up muddying the meaning. The crimes appeared to be well thought out in a lot of the details, and usually the details given were just the right amount without drowning the reader in minutiae. There was one instance where too much was given about the phone setup on the porch and it killed story momentum, but that was an exception.
I liked that even though Leonard was obviously intelligent he was rather obtuse about human feelings and behaviors. In fiction so many times an insane villain is also insanely brilliant about everything. They're always on top of everything and always ahead of those trying to catch them. But in Felonious Jazz Leonard is constantly wrong about the motivations, actions, and thoughts of others and this seems very realistic for someone who is so unhinged.
Gilmer did a nice job with some of the secondary characters who were often only around for a very short period of time, as they were usually victims. In fact, I thought he did a much better job with secondary characters than he did with Jeff, his protagonist as far as being able to give a real sense of personality in little time. My favorite character was Walter, half of a married couple who were assaulted in their home. With him Gilmer showed a sense of humor that was very welcome because everyone up until that point had been so serious all the time and I cared about the couple even though they were only around for a chapter or so.
Even though I liked the details about how Leonard had so cleverly planned and carried out his various crimes, the details allowed questions to arise about plot holes. For instance, Leonard managed to break into a hotel room where a single woman was staying by obtaining a key card for the door. But in my experience single women in hotel rooms always use the extra lock provided to prevent just that sort of thing, or to make sure housekeeping doesn't come barging in at the wrong time. Maybe this is just a difference in mindset between men and women, but to me it was a glaring mistake.
Somewhat along the same lines was the teenager who was being held captive. She was locked in a room, but she was not tied up or restrained at all. She was left alone in that house for long periods of time that lasted for several hours. Yet she never once made an attempt to escape. I just can't conceive of her not at least making some serious attempts, and possibly succeeding given the situation. It's not like she had anything else to do with her time.
Another serious plot issue was when Jeff leapt to the conclusion about the jazz album. It seemed extremely contrived to me. That idea could only make sense in the twisted mind of Leonard, though as readers we get to peek inside his head to see the connections he's making. But Jeff didn't have anything to grant that sort of insight, not even what little was provided in his investigation. Sure I think he could have gone back with hindsight and figured it out, but I just couldn't buy him stumbling on it on his own in the manner he did.
One other plot thing that bugged me, though it's not necessarily a flaw in the book, is that we were never told what the source of the hand sanitizer thing was. There should have been some sort of flashback or hints about how that all got started. It was such a bizarre (and interesting) thing to me, but there was no closure on being given any understanding.
Aside from the plot issues, Jeff as the protagonist was a rather flat character. I didn't dislike him, but I didn't like him either. It was as if he was just plugged into that slot since someone needed to be investigating, without much thought going into who he really is. Leonard was a much more intricately drawn character and the villain shouldn't really outshine the "hero" to that degree. By the time I was about 3/4 of the way through the book I started losing interest because of this and I mostly finished reading out of a sense of duty. Which is backwards. That's the point in this type of book where things should really be ramping up and the reader should be getting excited to see how it's going to turn out.
Overall Felonious Jazz was a somewhat interesting read and I think the story had a lot of potential, but in execution it ended up just being a very average book.
Kindle Specific Notes: This was one of the best formatted and copy-edited books I've read on the Kindle so far. The author obviously has a lot of pride in his work and it really shows in the care he took with making sure his book looked polished and professional. Some of the big publishing houses could take a few lessons from him! The only formatting negative is that there's an extra blank page in between every chapter which was annoying.
Warning: this book may make you rethink how you treat others.