Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Golden Bulls by Weston Kincade (A Life of Death, #2) - Book Review - Indie

3/5 Stars

Can Detective Alex Drummond save the ghosts calling to him and decipher this network of brutal, ritual sacrifices before someone else is burnt alive...?

Edition: eBook
Pages: -- (Not 100% sure; the program I use to read eBooks isn't accurate. Amazon lists it with roughly 170.)
Chapters: 19 (Plus a prologue.)
Publisher: Books of the Dead Press

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Blog


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

The Golden Bulls, instalment number two in Weston Kincade's supernatural crime series, is as polarising as its predecessor. The plot often immerses the reader in such vibrant events that you're left gobsmacked; the cast, while initially bland, skyrockets in development later in the game to become a cohesive collection of characters; and the writing flows smoothly only to become jagged during dialogue.

But the series, A Life of Death, is just rife with potential. There are moments where everything comes together and you forget that you're reading.

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Tranquil Heights sounds like the place to be; an idyllic little American town where you'd want to cultivate a family.
And you can, if you can get past the fact that, once a year, on September 20th, a serial killer burns someone alive.
Detective Alex Drummond was just out of high school when the first victim was killed, and now that he's able, he's on the hunt.
But even with his strange ability to relive people's last, gruesome moments, Alex can't make any progress.
And with only a few days before September 20th, he wonders if he can figure out the killer's game before another ritualistic murder robs someone of their life...

Plot - 3/5 Stars

The Golden Bulls starts by giving us a small recap of the first entry, A Life of Death. I always love when series do this, especially if you're a voracious reader. From there we follow Detective Alex Drummond as he hunts for a serial killer that's been active for fifteen years. And, to spice things up, the author mixes the criminal with the supernatural, which keeps the reader on their toes.

After the initial setup, events take a trip to exposition land, and we're inundated with information. Some of it is fascinating, including several looks at Egyptian history, while other parts act as general fluff. The crime aspects also begin to run in circles, and it leaves the reader desperate for something to happen. The supernatural elements, however, don't disappoint, and only become more and more fascinating as the plot progresses. 

The second half is a lot better, especially when that plot gets rolling and events race for their climax. A heart-pounding finale awaits, raising the stakes to the stratosphere, while also resolving the story. It's a solid resolution, even if the novel is very A to B. There aren't any real twists or surprises in store to shake you up.

Pace - 3/5 Stars

Smooth, but a little on the slow side. Alex's ability to relive people's deaths proves to be the go-to device in the novel to keep things from stagnating.

Things do pick up toward the end quite rapidly, which does wonders.

Characters - 3/5 Stars

The characters follow a similar flow to the plot: For the first half of the book they verge on bland, but once that curtain call draws near, almost all of them are injected with some fantastic development. Alex is a solid protagonist, shaped by the events in his role as a detective; he exhibits solid progression and realistic responses. His paranormal powers also do wonders, and some family revelations pave the way for some enticing possibilities in the future.

Other cast members such as Paige and Jessie lack oomph for much of the story, being there solely for ideas to be bounced off or to spout comedic lines that don't always hit the mark. It isn't until the last 1/4 that they take a more active role where, given the opportunity, their personalities become clearer and better rounded. 

Writing - 3/5 Stars

Weston Kincade can create some chilling scenes of horror, some heartwarming ones of hope, and some hilarious bouts of humour. Dialogue can, at times, be stiff, but for the most part it runs just fine. The structure is a little iffy until the second half, but The Golden Bulls is a good length, ensuring a short read.

Overall - 3/5 Stars

A solid supernatural crime drama that exhilarates and enrages in equal measure. 

Now, it's time for bed. I've had a busy, busy bloody day and I'm falling asleep at my keyboard...

Goodnight, folks.

Previous Instalment: A Life of Death

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