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Southern Bound - A Paranormal-Mystery (Max Porter Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 246 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top Customer Reviews
Inconsistent characterization: The main character removes to Winston-Salem with his wife from Michigan after being fired from his teaching job for sexual harassment, a charge he did not fight. When challenged by his wife, some way into the book, he confesses, he didn't fight it because he'd embezzled money from the school. Yet later in the book, confronted with the possibility of stealing a look at documents he doesn't own, he has an attack of conscience. Characters should be consistent and the author should consider whether readers actually like main characters who embezzle money.
Unbelievable plot twists: Ok, this is a paranormal, got it, but approximately a third or more of the way into the book, his wife admits she sees ghosts, has always seen ghosts, but has hidden it from her husband. The revelation at this point in the book seems more convenient for the author than believable in the context of the MS.
Confusing plot structure: The reader isn't sure whether the objective of the protagonist is to free a captive ghost, uncover the identities of the people who hired him, or expose ancient evil. Yes, they're related, but the relationships aren't clear or well explained and his apparent primary motivation - to free the ghost - seems a little ill considered when people are threatening him.
There are others. The wife works at a bakery and has limited time to work with her husband. Yet, later, she becomes a partner with him in uncovering the plot. No mention of her employment constraints or how she manages them. The language is sometimes inappropriate for the time and place. The language is often adolescent - he went "all" nuts or angry or whatever. Similarly, the action is often interrupted with character reaction or reflection. These are details that can make or break a book.
I see from the above author bio that Mr. Jaffe has written several books and short stories, so perhaps this is an anomaly. Some good editing and a little re-writing would whip this into a first rate book.
One of these days, I'll learn not to trade reviews for free copies. It's hard for me to be fully honest when the author is a person in my very own inbox who I know will read the review, as opposed to someone who is famous (or dead; I review a lot of old books) and therefore won't condescend to read my criticisms.
Anyway. Southern Bound is a paranormal mystery; the main character moves south to North Carolina (iirc) for a mysterious job, and it isn't long before he starts talking to a ghost who is connected to the mystery he's trying to solve. The back story of the mystery is fascinating; there were camps of German POWs established in North Carolina (and forty-five other states). I had never heard of this and was frankly skeptical, but it's true; on V-E Day, approximately [sources differ on the exact count] 400,000 POWs were being held in camps across the nation. (Texas had more camps than any other state partly because we have more space and partly because of the climate; you're supposed to hold POWs in a climate similar to the one in which they were captured, so a lot of Rommel's Afrika Korps ended up in Texas. The hill country in Central Texas is full of Germanic and Czech influence anyway, so it was probably a fairly congenial location for the Germans.) The German POWs did a lot of labor on local farms and in factories since so many of the men were overseas, and Southern Bound deals with a murder mystery involving these Germans. Old relationships, money, land, ghosts, and witches are all dug up and play a part in the book.
Unfortunately, the execution doesn't quite do justice to the premise. Max just didn't seem like a realistic character; his actions weren't very believable. The villains also weren't very believable - why exactly did they hire someone to solve a mystery they didn't want solved? And neither was Max's wife. It turns out that she can also see ghosts, very conveniently, and there's no foreshadowing of this ability at all, unless you count Max asking her if she believes in ghosts and her asking why he asks before claiming she doesn't. I guess it makes sense that someone who can see ghosts would keep it quiet, even from her husband, but that claim, coupled with no reason to believe she's lying (wouldn't you ask why if someone suddenly asked if you believe in ghosts?), makes her later revelation rather jarring. It feels a bit like a cheat. Also, the sex scenes are awkward and uncomfortable reading; I actually winced a couple times.
Honestly, I probably would have DNF'ed this book (certainly at the first sex scene if not before) if I hadn't promised a review. So I can't really recommend it. I am glad to have learned something new about history, though.
(DNF = did not finish)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The authors characterisation of the two main protagonists and their personal changes...Read more
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