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Nine-Tenths of the Law (Nine Lives Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Who the hell is Alice?
A cop with quite a few personal and professional issues is chasing a killer. Seems like the premise of most noir or hard-boiled crime novels, right? Well, then things get unconventional, to say the least. Half the witnesses are claiming there's a supernatural cause for the brutal slaying. The other half are dismissive of what the cop agrees is a ridiculous hypothesis.
The troubling aspect of this book is the 'what if' factor. If you side with the loonies, you start to see the backstory as one of the most unsettling and unorthodox horror stories you'll ever read. It gets about as weird and strangely tangible as a paranormal or supernatural idea can get. The book's title is obviously a dead give-away about the nature of that backstory.
But the wonderful thing about this book is that you're almost protected from that horrifying idea thanks to the scepticism of the cop who is one hell of an anti-hero. Talk about a compulsive personality! It's his instability that becomes one of the frightening aspects of the book, and with the evidence mounting, the classically structured mystery quickly turns into a thriller.
The book is split into days--just five or six of them--and held together with what must be some of the best dialogue I've read, including a few absolutely hilarious conversations, although the humour is very dark. For mystery lovers, it's a calculated effort to mess with your mind. Some people may be frustrated by the loose threads Mitchell drops throughout the book. Not me. I'm still enjoying the challenge of figuring out what the more subtle hints meant. At one stage I was afraid of every character. I didn't know where or when the villain was going to emerge.
This is the work of a pretty twisted imagination, and a very capable writer. Classic literature? Well that hardly ever happens in genre fiction and I certainly won't go that far. But I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a great film some time in the next few years. In the meantime, I hope the rumours of it being a series are correct. I'm hooked.
The story (minus the language) was pretty unique, and in itself gripping. It might very well have you questioning whether to turn off that hallway light at night. The descriptions are pretty graphic and there is some drug use depicted within the book. I know some people were saying the Australian slang was hard to follow but I didn’t think so. Nothing was so far out that I couldn’t deduce what the author was describing. A good book, but definitely not lighthearted.
Plot: The reader is introduced to the protagonist, Ben Ricci newly assigned homicide detective as he is forced to kill a suspect. He then discovers his reaction is, for him, unusual. Specifically recalling that cops on raids reacted differently – unashamedly scared, frightened with a talent for avoiding conflict, begrudgingly brave or “the strangest of them all, the fearless” who had nothing to overcome because their reaction resulted from “just good old-fashioned adrenalin”- fitting the last category, he was surprised to experience “a dark, dank flutter I felt before firing on the suspect”. His older partner, T. J, noticed and questioned his feeling, but was assured he was fine. Upon return to the office, the sergeant turns him over to Sala, the Internal Affairs Officer who is aware that Ben is a recovered ‘junkie’ and does not believe this third killing within a few months was necessary. T. J. insists that it was, Ben is exonerated and goes home to his wife Belinda and long-time buddie, Leo, both heavy drug/alcohol users. After his disturbing day, they persuade him to let down and just this once re-indulge with them. His relationship with Belinda appears to be largely based on a continuing sexual attention that she provides/withholds in a frustrating manner. So summarily the protagonist is: an apparent partially reformed drug/alcohol addict with marital difficulties; only partially trained as a homicide detective whose experienced partner/mentor acquires an illness that defies diagnosis; a new partner provided who also is ‘untrained’; and because of circumstances he must take the lead in a case to solve a hideous crime - disembowelment of a young man with an unidentifiable weapon that required a goodly amount of strength by the perpetrator.
Characters: Additionally contributing a murky influence upon a plot that centers on a mannequin with extremely unusual qualities: Anthony (Tony) Perugino, a powerful company executive who as a child was unable to save his best childhood friend Alice from drowning, and as an adult was bullied and beaten at work, fell in love with a woman who had a ‘nervous breakdown’ and then stalked him, followed by some similar repeat patterns, all associated with and overshadowed by supernatural occurrences; Melissa, his wife; Mitch Curtin, his partial confident/groundskeeper; Clair Haskell, his CEO; a mysterious Mrs. Lecanto, somewhat of a clairvoyant and her twin sons; Megan (Megs), Ben’s new partner, and Alice, who died at eight years of age.
Discussion: The author has provided an interesting noir mystery heavily overshadowed by the supernatural element abundantly buttressed by the actions of a number of highly psychologically disturbed and/or at least marginally psychotic individuals. It moves relatively well and no doubt is appealingly crafted for the devotee of supernatural stories, although possibly a little less so for more specifically noir genre aficionados. Regrettably this reviewer’s perhaps unfortunate pragmatic bent once again becomes apparent. I find both paranormal and especially noir mysteries quite appealing and have read a number that satisfy all of my personal criteria. The author here also has produced a most enjoyable and captivating tale. The only features that decrease the story’s enjoyment are the somewhat ‘murkiness’ of the plot and the failure to explain the murder which initiated the story; i.e., specifically why and how could it have been accomplished by the perpetrator? The ending provided was most fitting.
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I had a hard time really getting into the story.Read more