Saturday, 2 July 2016

Riker's Calling by Rico Lamoureux - Book Review - Indie

2.5/5 Stars

Someone out there knew my history.

An obvious psychotic that I had somehow managed to enthrall.

I was completely at a loss, knowing only one thing for certain;

this deadly web, in all its detail, was being weaved around me...

Edition: Kindle
Pages: 110 (Roughly.)
Chapters: -- (The novel contains three separate parts and an epilogue.)

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Facebook


* I was gifted this book, by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

I couldn't resist Riker's Calling when Rico sent it through, the blurb just grabbed my intrigue and refused to let go. A novel that focuses on a protagonist in a deadly battle with his serial-killer nemesis? Hell to the yes!

I was gifted a review copy of the novel before its release, so a lot of my misgivings could potentially be cleared up by the 4th of August, when it becomes available. Riker's Calling, for me, just comes with a jumble of parts. Some shine and are well-oiled, while the rust on others affects the story's ability to run smoothly.

On the plus side, the length of the novel is great. Keeping things nice and condensed for maximum adrenaline. But let's get to the meat of my review.

Synopsis (This time round, I'll be using the blurb that comes with my edition of the book.)

From school bullies to the crime-ridden streets of his hometown of Los Angeles, Jeremy Riker has always felt the need to do something about the injustice surrounding him. Just as he sets out on his journey as an urban warrior, he unknowingly gives rise to an obsessive adversary, who ends up becoming one of the most notorious serial killers the city has ever known. Dubbed by the news media as The Spyderco Killer, the methodical psychopath roots himself deep into Riker's life for the long haul, until his own madness propels everything into an intense climax.

Plot - 3/5 Stars

The first half of the novel is the best. Rico starts us by firing up the action instantly with a great fight scene and high stakes. The brutality is also shocking, creating a vivid mental picture that's sharp. This quality continues throughout, with the author unafraid of details and merciless with the variety of ice-cold shocks that lie in wait like traps.

But, eventually, this structure becomes frustrating. The majority of the story centres on the gruesome murders of many, many people, shoving the alluring detective aspects to the side. The first few times the surprise is palpable, but after that it's unneeded.

The second half suffers from being bogged down by exposition and iffy reveals. The lightning-quick pace of the beginning thankfully overshadows the amount of information given, but as the story builds and builds to its conclusion, everything starts to rattle and fall. The villain's identity, which the author patiently lays the groundwork for, is revealed halfheartedly in a few sentences at the worst time in the story, rendering all the hints void.

We eventually reach the conclusion, perhaps not as invested as we should be, with a showdown we want. Answers are given, for better or worse, and the story comes to an average close, leaving off on a cliffhanger for a potential sequel.

Riker's Calling works in some areas and not in others. The talent is there, that passion to tell a surprising story, but the technical ability to structure needs a little fine-tuning. 

Pace - 3/5 Stars

While the jagged structure can make it a bumpy ride, Riker's Calling's overall pace is stellar. The book's short length and action-orientated progression lends the flow speed, and the more captivating parts of the plot help keep you interested.

Characters - 2.5/5 Stars

The story predominantly focuses on two main viewpoints: Riker's and the villain's. Both have good backstories that define and build them, and understanding their roots isn't a problem. On the other hand, neither develop through the intense situations they go through. After all the brutality that occurs over a long period of time, Riker's lack of awareness, despite the character's overall bio, is infuriating. 

A serial killer is haunting him and those that surround him, but you wouldn't be able to tell by the way he conducts himself, or by the way those around him do.

The villain is blunted by the lacklustre reveal, but his initial mystery is brilliant, with his antics suitably shocking. The intricacies of his mind and the games he sets out for Riker are often intelligent and riveting.

The rest of the cast come and go too frequently to put a steady finger on them. Some are good parts, some are unnecessary.

Writing - 2.5/5 Stars

I will state that this is a review copy, and is likely to be a little more polished by its release date. 

In my copy, however, sentences can often be jagged, with an odd structure that can foil carefully built and intense scenes. The flow of the story picks up exceptionally when the sentences run smoothly, and there are some fantastic collections of words throughout.

Scenes within scenes prove to be problem. As the author structures one event, he can often switch unexpectedly to a past event and have both running concurrently, blending plots and merging pictures when they should remain separate.

Overall - 2.5/5 Stars

Overall, Riker's Calling has some tingling experiences that fit perfectly with the crime thriller genre. It can sometimes wander off the reserve or stay in one place too long, but it's an interesting experience that shows an author making his way up.

Plus, depending on when you're reading this review, you can pre-order the novel for 25% off! (Just use the Amazon link at the top.) And for a little adrenaline shot like this, I urge you to give it a try.

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