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Next Move, You're Dead Paperback – May 28, 2011
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If they were in fact innocent, they would deny any such conspiracy against you, right? But, what if they were guilty? They would deny it then, too, right?
What if it was all a game, and someone outside your circle of trust was manipulating the facts and events, weaving a masterful deception, testing your mettle?
The Greeks loved to have their gods do stuff like that to people. Their gods were connivers, terrible, powerful, fickle beings who put people in impossible situations to see how they would react, to see how much heat they could stand before they melted down.
Linda L. Barton, in her fine thriller, NEXT MOVE, YOU'RE DEAD, plays on these highly charged psychological themes to craft a story of intrigue, murder and betrayal.
Jim Thompson, famous American pulp fiction writer of the 1940s and 1950s and author of such classics as The Grifters, The Killer Inside Me and Savage Night said there were a thousand ways to tell a story, but there was only one plot.
Things are not what they appear.
In Barton's story, the reader wonders about the game. Who is lying? Who is the killer? Will the detective crack the code and see how the pieces fit together, or will the game crack him?
If you want to see how it works out, you'll have to pick up a copy of NEXT MOVE, YOU'RE DEAD.
But remember what Jim Thompson said. And remember those fickle gods.
**Potential spoilers contained**
- The characters are shallow and experience no growth over the course of the story
- The manuscript needs basic editing. There's errors such as names that are not capitalized, missing words, run on sentences, incorrect use of punctuation and incorrect words used (ex : 'all ready' is used at least three times where the author meant 'already')
- What kept me reading to the end was the interest in the 'bad guy', a character that ends up never being developed, never having his motive elaborated on and, as the story unfolds, you realize is not nearly as logical or crafty a foe as you wanted him to be. (One of the only clues you do have, at the end of the story he acknowledges that it was 'not important' despite saying consistently throughout the entire narrative that the victims were purposefully chosen and important. Obnoxious.) His opponents are just that stupid.
- Which brings me to John and Kathy, the main protagonists. Both perform incredibly irrationally throughout the story, take seemingly all day to accomplish one task that they glean no information from and never display critical thinking. John is not convincing as a detective. Before this I read a book about a 'culinary cop' that displayed more tenacity, intelligence and problem solving. John's biggest 'breakthrough' in the plot is googling an odd name the killer uses, several days into the process... He asked very few questions of people he goes well out of his way to interview, he never analyses the antagonist beyond 'I'm so mad at that guy' and displays one shameful behavior after another. There is nothing likeable about him.
- I have read well crafted stories where the protagonist comes to a poor end before; stories where you mourn for a character you have come to love or grudgingly nod to the feat of a truly diabolical antagonist. This is not one of them. This is a story where you get to the last few pages and are thinking "What? That's IT? Stupid."
- Very frankly this story reads like it was going somewhere potentially decent until you get to the last chapter or two and any of the 'clues' that anyone had gleaned are revealed as non important (and not in a 'red herring' type way but in a 'the author never figured out how to tie this in' vibe) and the protagonists as easily manipulated tools with vacant minds. (Whose seemingly irrational behavior is completely predictable to the antagonist?) Rewriting even just the end of this story to make more logical sense could potentially make it a tolerable read, if paired with some editing.