“ Author: Jonathon King / Genre: Crime / Thriller / Publisher: Orion „
If your left it up to Librarians or book shop owners to determine what genre a book was you may find yourself only visiting one section. If you are a science fiction fan there is a handy sign above a wide selection of authors all writing in the science fiction genre. The same is true of the crime genre as shops and Libraries decide that some particular authors write crime. I don't blame either group for doing this as they just do not have the time to read ever book to make sure that it is what is says on the tin. Therefore, fans of either genre, like myself, often find ourselves reading something that we thought would be one thing, but it turns out to be something different. So when I picked up the latest book by one of my favourite crime authors, Jonathon King (the American author and not convicted UK paedophile!), from the crime section imagine my surprise to get a heart felt novel about grief (and the occasional sniper shooting).
Three years ago investigative newspaper journalist Nick Mullins lost his wife and one of his children when they were hit by a drunk driver. Now back at work he must live with this pain as he tries to continue to write up crime stories whilst looking after his remaining daughter. When a convicted rapist is shot dead by a single bullet the world does not really care, but when a second criminal is found dead with the same precise method of sniping Nick suddenly realises that the killer may be using his old stories for inspiration. Nick must now decide what he wants to do, does he agree with the killer's stance, or should he contact the police? When he realises that the man who killed his wife and child is out of jail, the decision may have been made for him.
How you approach 'Eye of Vengeance' will in a large way determine your enjoyment for the book. If like me you are a fan of lighter action crime books that are full of men that only use their surnames and shoot before they ask - then you may struggle. However, if you are open to reading a slower paced book that is as much about a man tackling the ghosts of his past as anything in the present - then you are in for a treat. Its credit to King that 'Vengeance' appealed to me even though it is the type of book that I usually try to avoid.
It is the characterisation and well written relationships that make this slow burn of a book work. Nick Mullins is the central character of the book and it's the exploration of a man returning to work after the death of his loved ones more so than a crime book about a serial killer. The central narrative is as straight forward as they come as it's pretty much only one suspect that comes to light, therefore, it is imperative that King makes the journey interesting enough as the reader can immediately guess the conclusion. Mullins is a great character for this as he is very sympathetic, the reason that he was chosen by the killer was because his profiles of criminals had such a deep insight. Unusually for me I began to care about the character and was as interested in his life as much as the case. This was especially true of the relationship between Mullins and his remaining daughter. King paints a wonderful picture of a family trying to get back to some sort of normal existence.
As mentioned before King has created great characters by sacrificing some of the energy in the central storyline. We are introduced to the killer and some of the police officers and although we learn something about their motives it is nowhere near as in-depth as Mullins. This lack of depth also hampers the story itself as the action sequences are too few and far between to be exciting. I was also a little disappointed in the final action sequence as the entire book had been gearing towards it and it felt slightly rushed and confused to me.
Criticising 'Eye of Vengeance' for its lack of action and average crime narrative would be pigeon holing the book into the wrong genre. On the surface it has all the trappings of your typical crime thriller, but unlike most of these books it's more about the internal journey of the man than the crime. As a rule many authors try to imbue their noir heroes with internal struggles, but many fail to reach the depth that King has here. The book is a more brooding and emotional crime book than most and I for one felt a little teary - don't know what I would do without my partner : (
Author: Jonathan King
Price: amazon uk - £5.59
play.com - £5.49