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Wednesday 9 July 2014

Branded For Murder by Dick C. Waters


I so, so wanted to love this book. It promised to satisfy my favourite genre requirements as a crime/thriller/suspense/mystery-type book. 

Set in the sixties, while Scott Tucker is studying at Harvard, his cousin, Jackie, falls victim to a serial killer known as The New England Strangler. Scott manages to get himself on the police team investigating the murders…his way of finding justice for his much-loved cousin. Between studies and crime-busting, he manages to fall in lust with Lisa Anderson, and both come to the conclusion that their future together is pretty much set in stone: they’re made for each other, it seems. A certain strangler, however, has other plans…

In essence, a great plot, intensified by red herrings and revenge. In essence, a good cast of characters—the roll-out is well balanced and most of the personae credible. 

But sadly, that’s where the pros end: at the ‘essence’. There were a number of very annoying features: the characters’ incessant habit of referring to each other by name in dialogue exchanges (sometimes three times in a paragraph) was infuriating and unnecessary; the tenses were in a complete mess (was this meant to be in the present or in the past?); apart from the mention of Kennedy’s assassination, there were very few references to the sixties’ era; the dialogue was wooden, stilted and unnatural; I found it hard to believe an undergraduate could so easily be admitted onto a high-profile investigative team, totally unvetted (and manage to make them look utterly stupid); and…editing? Was there any? At least five instances of incorrect its/it’s and inconsistent spellings suggest not.

I really, really struggled to finish this book. Although the latter twenty-five percent suddenly picked up a pace, I almost gave up at ninety-five percent (unheard of for me). I realised I didn’t care one iota for the characters. That said, with Scott Tucker books two, three and four sitting on my Kindle, I might just have to find out what happens to Scott and Lisa, whether he graduates, and where his future in law enforcement lies.

Difficult to recommend this, unfortunately.

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