The fun part about going to writer’s conference is that you meet lots of writers and get opportunities for review copies, especially if you let folks know you review books. KM Rockwood is a delightful person, and I was happy to accept a review copy of her latest book, [easyazon-link asin=”B00K2L77XU” locale=”us”]Brothers in Crime[/easyazon-link]. When she asked me if I wanted the first in the series or a later book, I opted for the latest book, to see if book would stand alone as well as she said it would.
The good news is that it does. However, this is an odd review for me to write because, while I finished and enjoyed the book, it has some narrative flaws I feel I must point out, because they are flaws which usually would make me stop reading a particular book.
The series is about Jesse Damon, a paroled ex-convict who was jailed for murder but wasn’t actually a murderer. And no, it wasn’t a false conviction. You’ll have to read the book to figure out why. What I liked is that Rockwood created a convict character who is also completely likable. I genuinely cared about Jesse, which was one of the reasons I continued reading.
As a convict, it’s not a surprise that when crime happens near him, Jesse’s the first one the police question. There are three unrelated crimes in this book he is suspected of, and while not responsible for any of them, the three crimes provide the conflict and drama in the story.
The book is full of events and supporting details about the people and events surrounding Jesse, and I have a new appreciation for just how hard it is to live as a convicted criminal. From the low-paying job to difficulties finding food and a place to stay, Rockwood peppers the story with lots of details which ring true. Another thing I like about Jesse is that he’s not a whiny main character. Lots of bad things happen to him, but he accepts responsibility for his situation without playing the blame game. He’s a well drawn character who ticks almost every box in my personal “points that make a character a winner for me.”
Obviously, I liked Jesse and was cheering for him all the way. I stayed up way too late one night, reading “just one more chapter” because I wanted to find out how he got out of the mess. Which leads to my biggest criticism of the book. The series is entitled “A Jesse Damon Crime Novel,” and I expected Jesse to solve at least one of the crimes he is suspected of. However, the book is more “slice of life drama” than “amateur sleuth solves crimes he’s suspected of.” While lots happens in the book, most of the plot follows Jesse as he moves through his life and lives from day to day. Each of the three crimes he’s suspected of are solved by the police, and Jesse contributes little to the resolution. Even the big reveal hinted at by the title falls flat at the end.
If you are looking for a “day in the life” kind of book with a well-drawn character, you’ll enjoy Brothers in Crime. However, if you’re looking for an amateur sleuth who solves the crimes he’s been wrongfully suspected of, you may want to look elsewhere.