I've just finished Dragon of Life Book 1 Raining Truth by Mark Devine. It was recommended reading and I wasn't disappointed. I generally don't award stars, as I believe books are difficult to objectively compare, but in this case I've made an exception.
The book is a love story, an infatuation story --so subtle and strong you would think it was painted on silk--written in the first person, present tense (which takes guts for any guy to do) circa 1967. The storyteller introduces himself as a bodiless spirit in a heavenly kingdom where continuously reliving your life is required, groan. From time to time he must narrate assigned segments of his life to fellow spirits; hence, the Dragon of Life series, two already.
Whether or not you believe in heaven, it's a perfectly logical place to begin a series of first person novels about the past. I quite enjoy (or loath) a series of novels, as the reader doesn't have to continually begin again and, as with TV series, the immediate past can be referenced to the delight of loyal fans. In any series with ongoing main characters, their personas require more than average depth and breadth if they are to deliver a return on one's time. Raining Truth does this so well I've already purchased Book 2 Minor Gods.
The back cover of Raining Truth reads: "jaunty Luke Whitaker meets dazzling Martha Prindle". A perfect description of their initial public presence though it belies their intelligence and candor. But that's only in the beginning. Before long, Luke sheds jaunty and Martha's dazzle is replaced by danger.
Dialogue between characters is used to do much of the story telling, which I find refreshing. The author skillfully gives each person their own voice and style. As an example, Luke never uses the word "is" and replaces "around" with "round", as many of us do when speaking, and he is inclined to give lengthy answers when he's not simply nodding or shaking his head. Luke the storyteller misses details my wife would notice, and vise-versa, but at least he doesn't presume to know what everyone is thinking, as claimed by third person storytellers.
Many novels written in the first person bury the reader under piles of petty details. Fortunately, Luke is not impressed with himself. Though he is often clever and always thoughtful, he is never guilty of trying to impress anyone, including the reader. A quality that makes the story move faster and, I suspect, is partially why the big London tabloid SUN wrote: "James Bond style jet-set swinging-Sixties locations and writing give additional gloss to this classic thriller."
There is one realistic subtlety I noticed and must share: the longer Martha is around Luke the more she talks like him. It happens to people who are constantly together. When I finished Raining Truth and started an email to my wife, I caught myself writing very much like Luke "speaks". So, watch out. If you are not immune to good writing and thorough punctuation (à la Lynne Truss' #1 British bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves) that dispels confusion and makes it possible for the reader to "hear" the conversations, you might join me in finding the writing quite infectious.
In conclusion, I must caution potential buyers whose idea of reading is to skim a text in search of salacious details; the text is nearly impossible to skim and salacious details are only implied.