Wounded Animals, the first book from the Whistleblower Trilogy is the first book I am reviewing in 2016. I am a little late though; a lot late, actually. This review was requested almost a year ago, but you all know that several things went wrong last year and review requests from authors had to take a backseat. Anyway, let’s discuss Wounded Animals now.
Summary: Tucker Candle, a trainer in an IT firm, meets a man named Kareem at a bar. The man turns water into wine as Candle watches. Once Kareem knows he has Candle’s attention, he tells Candle that his boss is planning to send him on a business trip, and he must refuse to go no matter what. The next day, Candle’s boss dismisses his pleas and Candle is forced to go on the trip. When he returns, he finds his pregnant wife missing, and one of his trainees (whom he met during the trip) murdered in his bathroom.
Wounded Animals started off well. As I read about Kareem turning water into wine, I was immediately drawn into the story. It was almost comical, how Kareem criticized his work and Candle’s obvious confusion. A good beginning works well for a book, because it makes the reader turn the pages.
Speaking of turning pages, Wounded Animals is fast-paced. You can read it really quickly. I would not call it an “edge of the seat thriller” (reasons will be listed shortly) but it is a page-turner nevertheless. The cliffhangers at the end of each chapter really work in its favour.
Among the characters, only the protagonist Tucker Candle really stands out. The others, the bad guys, neighbours, cops, whathaveyou, all seem to be cut out of the same cloth and really don’t have any distinguishing features (but one of the neighbours, the could-be-a-meth-dealer guy, stands out; he doesn’t have anything to do with the story, but the phrase about his house being a meth-filled house sticks to your memory). Candle insists everyone call him by his last name – no prefixes, just his last name. (Reminded me of a math teacher I once had who insisted we do the same – it was odd addressing him by his last name, no Mr. no Sir.) Candle is a regular guy next door, who gets pulled into a conspiracy and he has nothing but his instincts to help him.
Wounded Animals is an easy read, the language used is simple and light. I noticed a few typos, such as whose/who’s (it was incorrectly used), Chricton (a reference was made to a Michael Crichton book). Another thing about the light, unburdened prose is that it situations, characters, circumstances etc are not too descriptive. I have three things to say about that:
- The best thing about this is that Jim Heskett does not waste too much time describing each and every little detail about silly things like appearances. I really hate reading about color-coordinated outfits and the like. Just get on with the story! So this was a plus.
- The drawback of this is that sometimes a reader requires a description. For instance, when a scene changes, we need to know where our protagonist is. The lack of description makes the reader lose focus. Also, there’s the failure of the “Show, don’t tell” rule in this situation.
- The third thing is, in some places, this is not true, resulting in a lot of redundancy. For example (more or less paraphrasing) “I followed my instincts. I did not know why. I knew I had to follow my instincts.” We could have saved a lot of words there.
Overall, this was a book that progressed well but had several loose threads by the the time it reached the climax. I did not feel it was well-resolved. Sure, the story reached closure, but I felt the “whys” of things were not explained. Also, the story as a whole seemed like an unconvincing thriller, because the protagonist works purely on instinct. It seems improbable to me. The premise is good, but the execution is certainly lacking… something.
Note: I received a PDF Copy of this book for review.