Review: Acts of Violence

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Title: Acts of Violence
Author: Ross Harrison
Release Date: January 2014
Length: 190 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

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My name’s Jack Mason. I made a mistake. Took home the wrong girl. Now she’s dead. Cut up. And they’re telling me I did it.

It’s the same cop that tried to take me down ten years ago. Now he’s coming at me hard. And he’s not the only one. Cole Webster, the city’s crime lord, thinks I stole from him. Broke me out of custody just to ask me about it. Then I killed his son. Now he really wants me.

Add to this equation a government agent, and I’m a real popular guy right now. Pretty much everyone I meet wants me dead, lawfully or otherwise. There’s nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. I’ve got till morning to uncover Webster’s trafficking operation and take the heat off me. And all I’ve got to go on is a pissed off homeless girl with a thirst for revenge.

Guess it could be worse. Can’t quite figure how.

***** Review *****

Oh, it could be so much worse.

Acts of Violence pits the elite against the peasants. Or rather, everyone’s under the thumb of the crime lord, Cole Webster, and his son Little Dick.

Premier club. It was ridiculous. The club was in the heart of the west side. The east side was the rich side. The side with all the gambling houses and other clubs. But he set up The Web here. And it worked. The social elite – or at least their spoilt brats – packed the place just about every night. 

Jack Mason has tried and failed to become a cop in Harem. Ten years ago he was kicked out of the academy. Ten years ago his girlfriend Lucy died, and the cop with the first name for the last name tried to pin him to the wall for the murder.

Jack got off, but Lawrence still thinks he has his man.

Now the stakes have risen, and crime king Cole Webster is involved. Another girl has died in Jack’s apartment. Except this time, it’s more gruesome and Lawrence is hell bent on pinning Jack to the chair. He’s knocked down each piece of Jack’s alibi like a wrecking ball taken to Lincoln Logs.

Unfortunately in a town like Harem, those charged with upholding justice can be bought. Little Dick steps in to play Little Rich Boy and show Jack exactly who is boss.

Fortune is on Jack’s side and some interesting evidence turns up incriminating someone else in the girl’s murder. Things get more heated when government officials show up and there is a glimmer of hope for Jack. If he can only find out why the girl was killed…and stay out of Cole Webster’s grips while doing it.

As his nose cracked under my knuckles, I reflected on how much I hated violence. Not violence stemming from my own unresolved anger issues. That I was fine with. It was violence against women that I hated. I don’t know why, but the prettier the girl the more I hated it. Maybe I was shallow.

The new agent, DeMartino, has it together. He keeps the investigation under wraps. Turns out the mining business Cole Webster has used for a front all the years was indeed a front, but now the tables have turned on him. Jack has more than enough bullets to dodge.

I felt like a celebrity. A celebrity that everyone wants to see hanged with his own bootlaces in a dirty cell.

Along with a homeless girl, Sixteen, Jack is determined to discover what Cole Webster is up to and how the girl he took up from Webster’s club ended up dead in his bed.

I liked the goose chase that Jack was sent on in his discovery of what’s going on, and the stream of consciousness that Harrison has used with Jack. However, I did not like that there is minimal hints here and there about the setting and world that Jack lives in. Apparently it is futuristic, with shard guns and flyers, and more than one world, but the worlds keep to themselves. Officially, at least. I wish we had all this in the exposition instead of halfway through the book.

Jack also seemed to have a few redeeming moments with Van, the club manager, and his gorilla body guard. There were also a couple of moments when Jack saw Sixteen for more than just the scrawny homeless girl. In ways, she reminds him of Lucy.

I was thrown at the end for several loops, and Jack shows some true character growth and reflection on the past.

“I’m sorry,” I said. He ignored me. It was true enough. I was sorry for everything that had happened. I wasn’t who I was meant to be. The man I’d tried to be. The man I’d spent the last ten years pretending to myself that I was. 

***** About the Author *****

Ross Harrison has been writing since childhood without thought of publication. When the idea was planted by his grandmother to do so, it grew rapidly, and after a bumpy ten years or so, here sits the fruit.

Ross lives on the UK/Eire border in Ireland, hoping the rain will help his hair grow back.

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Book Review: Quest for Juice

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The Quest for Juice

Title: The Quest for Juice
Author: Jonathan-David Jackson
Publisher: Kipling Books
Release Date: June 2013
Length: 290 pages (paperback)
Series?: Paranoia #1
Genre: humor
Format: e-book
Source: author
Challenge: n/a

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Synopsis

Oscar has always lived a life of quiet paranoia, but now everything is changing. Suddenly, the bus is frequently late, his house key won’t fit in the lock, and someone has taken his juice, which was the one thing holding his life together. He strikes back against the people behind it all, but when he strikes too hard an innocent man ends up dead, and Oscar ends up in jail, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and facing life in a mental institution. On his journey to mental health and the truth, he has to make hard decisions about medication, trusting his own mind, dating a nurse, and whether that hedgehog can actually talk.

Review

Oscar Well is something else. He is absolutely certain that someone is following him, that “they” are plotting against him. They have stolen his juice, they have tampered with his house key. He is so fearful that he even suspects his very own mother of being in on this plot of deceit against him. He hides in the clothes dryer to avoid her.

Oscar is certifiably insane, no joke about it. Indeed, he is committed to an institution after following a man who he believes is in on this ring…and something terrible happens, something that Oscar refuses to admit.

Oscar is taken to Maple Ridge, where he is put in a bolted room. He is there for an indeterminate amount of time, several weeks at least, and encounters a sweet nurse who suffers from his same mental disorder: schizophrenia. Instead of taking his prescription medicine, Oscar obstinately ignores it, believing it too is somehow being used against him to confuse him and dampen his worries and fears. Nurse Penelope is a gentle woman, and shares her own stories and experiences with Oscar, ultimately convincing him to take his medication as prescribed. He is almost infinitely on the right track, no longer in a constant state of fear, paranoia, worry and skepticism about people.

Eventually, Oscar is free to live his normal life, but things are strange. Even those who are sane around him notice these very odd and bizarre things. Oscar pays them no mind and their paranoid ideas no mind. He begins a sweet courtship with Nurse Penelope, until he tells her about the cameras his new job has installed in his house.

This leads Oscar on a wild goose chase, and the novel picks up momentum at this point. Things are not as they seem…

This book touches on a very serious matter – and includes some very serious content – yet it is written in an extremely humorous light, almost to the point of being characterized too much and over the top. I’m not schizophrenic, nor do I know anyone who is, so I have no idea if the stream of consciousness  that Jackson has used in this book is accurate of schizophrenia, but it is so insane that you can’t help but laugh…continuously.

Although Oscar suffers from schizophrenia, he has a very sharp mind. Too sharp for his own good. The misconception of his reality is as accurate as can be…

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About the Author

Jonathan-David Jackson was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, at 3 in the morning on May 14, 1987. At first, he could not walk, talk, or indeed use the toilet. After a year of intensive training in NC, he moved his family to Kingsport, Tennessee, where he finally overcame those early disabilities. Soon, he was walking and talking as good as anyone, and perhaps better. Walking and talking wasn’t good enough, though, so he also learned to write.

He wrote and wrote, and with gentle encouragement from his wife, he finally wrote a book – The Quest for Juice. Then he wrote this biography. Perhaps he’ll do more things; that would certainly be exciting.

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