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An Engineer Trawls Through More Suspects Than a Game of Clue, to Find the Proof of His Friend's Innocence
, 6 Nov. 2013
This review is from: The Reckless Engineer (Kindle Edition)
"Harry and Jeremy were just about to call it a day and head over to the pub for a drink when the call came through. Harry had gathered the files and papers spread over the round table that stood diagonally opposite the large polished oak desk that dominated his office. There they liked to sit in the afternoon, take stock, and mull over matters at hand once every few days. The London sky, turning a misty orange-red through the window behind Harry, was being served to them lukewarm and sliced finely into stripes by the blind. Jeremy didn't envy Harry and his large west-facing office. He liked his sun served whole, with a black Americano and two sugars, early in the morning."
The Reckless Engineer is a murder-mystery story, and the first full-length novel by Jac Wright. To celebrate its release today, here's my review.
Jeremy is an engineer who started his own company after being made redundant last year. He shares an office with his old school friend, Harry, who runs a law firm. So when Jeremy gets a call from his old colleague and friend, Jack- claiming he's been arrested on murder charges- Harry is the first person he turns to. Together, the pair do their best to solve the murder- hopefully proving Jack's innocence in the process.
However, the task is a daunting one. The victim was Michelle- another employee at Jeremy's old company- though in this case she was a secretary. Jack and Michelle have been having an affair. Jack is somewhat of a heartbreaker. He left his first wife and two sons to marry his current wife- the daughter of a very wealthy man (who also happens to be his boss). He then had an affair with another engineer at the same company, before he replaced her with Michelle. More than that, Michelle had just told him she was pregnant with his child, and served him an ultimatum- divorce his current wife and marry her (taking half the very wealthy Mrs. share with them) or else. And she wasn't the only one handing him ultimatums. His father-in-law is none too happy about the affair. His wife certainly isn't. His ex stands to lose his child support. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
So when Michelle ends up dead, Jack is the first person everybody points to. Michelle's presence threatened his job, his marriage and his money. But with more suspects than a game of Clue (and growing), Jeremy and Harry have their work cut out for them.
A more intellectual than intense, action-packed mystery, with an ending that will keep you guessing. There are so many different suspects, with so many different motives and means, that keeping track of them all was a challenge. Not in an my-goodness-this-is-overly-complicated way, but more in a maybe-I-should-just-call-it-an-Orient-Express-job kind of way.
When the murderer is revealed, and the how and the why explained, it is one of the few cases where I could actually understand why they would go to such extremes, as well as the conditions that put them there. The clues are all there, and I was kicking myself slightly that I didn't think more of them, or really even notice them at the time.
I do have a couple criticisms though. My major one is, unfortunately, Jeremy- our main character. For a large portion of the story he acts as more of a viewer, and as a source of exposition than as a character with any real personality. He does occasionally go all 'Mission Impossible', but then immediately returns to his almost background character behaviour. And the ratio of action-to-non-action is so strongly on the side of the latter, that it causes a lack of tension throughout the book. Mostly we are given a lot of information, and not a lot else. Only about three quarters of the way through the story does Jeremy actively grab the momentum and keep it going. So while he does step-up his almost background character level of interesting, I still think of him as a secondary character on the main premise that we don't really learn much about him. We are overloaded with information about the rest of the characters, and yet the main character's info sheet is strangely sparse. However, I have it on good authority (from the author himself) that there will be a sequel, so hopefully Jeremy will get a little more development there. I just wish we'd had more here.
Another issue is that some of the dialogue is a little clunky. Something about is just doesn't fit right, it doesn't quite work. It just seems a little off. It's not throughout the entire book- more certain sections of the text.
On a similar note, the subject of race is a little poorly described too. It's nothing too offensive, but maybe just a little un-PC? For instance, a Mexican boy is described as "that brown boy". Perhaps that doesn't seem that bad, but something about it just doesn't sit right.
A little slow-paced, and lacking tension, but with a well thought out story and believable character reactions, as well as an understandable chain of events that could eventually lead someone to murder. I'd say that if you're going to read it, read it for that reason. It's refreshing to have a murderer who has more than superficial or exaggerated reasons for killing.
If you'd like to learn a little bit more about the story and the author, I'll have a Q&A up with Jac Wright himself later on. As well as that, there's a competition hosted by the author too- so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.
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