Punishment and Sacrifice
Review: John Reid's debut novel, Punishment and Sacrifice, a lurid tale of good versus evil, is such a muddled mess that by the end of the book its core message is all but lost.
There are only two characters that get any real attention or development in the book: Jack Barker, a psychologist specializing in family practice who has a sideline of killing children that, under what is purported to be flawed judicial system, have not sufficiently paid for their crimes and then, for good measure, killing their parents as well; and Mike Swanson, a detective who is a recovering alcoholic and assigned to desk duty but gets involved investigating the crimes committed by Jack Barker. There is no suspense generated by the flat narrative, the crimes are told in such a dispassionate manner that they hardly seem shocking, and the revelation that Barker and Swanson are brothers is foreshadowed in the first few chapters.
Child abuse is an abhorrent crime and clearly Reid is trying to relate a story illustrating the potential long-term consequences of abusing a child. But the link between cause and effect is never cogently made, and when Barker takes on an apprentice in Billy Winfield, a boy he blackmails into working with him, the book descends into the absurd. "Doctor Jack Barker had, in a sense (sic) created a monster in Billy Winfield and soon the monster would destroy its creator for it's (sic) own survival and future."
In addition to its subject matter, many readers are likely to be put off by how poorly written the book is. "Their" is used as the contraction for "they are", "your" for "you are", and, as evidenced in the above quoted passage, "it's" for "its" (and vice versa). Punctuation is haphazard, quotation marks are used incorrectly, and long strings of commas seem intended to substitute for ellipses. The occasional error can and should be overlooked, but there is scarcely a page in Punishment and Sacrifice without some obvious syntactic problem. It's hard to take an author seriously when they don't take their craft seriously.
Acknowledgment: John Reid provided a copy of Punishment and Sacrifice for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Punishment and Sacrifice:
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Punishment and Sacrifice by John Reid
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 2007
List Price: $25.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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