Title: Dead of Knight
Author: William R. Potter
Summary: "A serial killer dubbed the "Birthday Boy" is terrorizing the citizens of Hanson, B. C. The sadistic murderer only targets women on their birthdays, but why? Hanson Detective Jack Staal is determined to get him. But, Stall is carrying some heavy baggage of his own. Staal must use every ounce of his skill to determine the Birthday Boy's true identity and bring an end to his brutal killing spree."
Source: I purchased this ebook on my own.
Review: Judging by the ratings on GoodReads, I'm apparently the only person out there who didn't like this book that much. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did, because I've had some dealings with the author via IAN and he's been very nice to me. So, I would have loved to have read this book and written a rave review, but I can't. I had a lot of issues with it.
Most of my problems come from the same source, which is that from a writer's perspective, this story really strikes me as one that was written without a pre-planned outline. That's fine, many books are, but it didn't feel like anyone went back and tried to make sure that everything was consistent. It felt like character details and information were written into the story when the idea came, because some things just come out of nowhere and then don't weave in smoothly until the end. Like Brenda. Like Travis.
I didn't find Staal a sympathetic character. Almost all of his actions, to me, seemed driven by purely selfish motives. This happens with all characters in all books in some way or another, but one of the things you love about a good cop story is that they are driven by the victims and the pursuit of truth. Staal only seemed to care about himself and only threw in the occasional hint of humanitarian motives, which made them see out of the blue and insincere. It didn't feel like it was an integral part of his character. I think that was clear in the scene where he thinks about his reasons for wanting to work the Birthday Boy case and not the case he's shifted to.
He's looked at and talked about like a great cop all through the beginning, but suddenly towards the end there's all this self-doubt about how he got to be a cop and if he's really good enough. That came totally out of left field to me and wasn't connected to earlier guilt issues. The whole team looks to him like he's a leader through the whole story until it's plot convenient for them to think he's nuts with little seeming explanation. It makes no sense. And his PTSD, again until the end, really only seems to come into play when an excuse is needed for bad or irrational behavior.
It didn't feel psychologically realistic and if you're going to give your character a major psychological issue, I want it to be realistic.
And his connection and the snippet of back story for it with the bar tender of the Thirsty Gull just put Staal in even more a dubious light for me. It was also just another section of back story just kind of pushed in there that never came back into play and didn't seem to serve that much purpose.
The story didn't feel like anyone had read it for flow, making sure it all ran smoothly and consistently, or to make sure the same things weren't repeated over and over again unnecessarily. Usually you can get along with only telling the reader important things once or twice. Not multiple times.
I really, really wanted to like this story. I liked the premise, both of the plot and of Staal himself, and Potter's writing is competent though in need of streamlining and polish, but the execution over all just entirely lost me and I found the ending, and reaching the end of the story, rather unsatisfactory. I did manage to finish it, which does say something at least, and maybe I'm just a freak when it comes to what I look for in books and everyone else has it right. But, for me, I can't in good conscious give this book more than 2 Fireballs.