by Alaric Hunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you are tired of the typical thrillers from the usual voices, read Alaric Hunt’s debut novel, “Cuts Through Bone” ( Minotaur Books 2013). Aside from the fact that the story deals with detectives, murdered innocents, and the good guys are flawed, there’s nothing usual about this book.
The story deals with a gritty older detective who’s breaking in a raw new female partner. As luck would have it, a serial murder falls in their laps so her learning curve accelerates and we get to see the many tricks of the trade that made our seasoned PI–Guthrie–survive as long as he has. He is sharp, school-of-hard-knocks smart, which he probably got from the author himself who’s serving a life sentence in South Carolina. The plot, too, is smart, and complicated. Hunt cleverly peals it away like an onion, never too fast that you miss the fun or too slow that you want to stop.
That’s not what will make you read this book, as appealing as the two characters and the plot are. It’s the author’s voice. It’s so authentic, I don’t know what he’s saying 10% of the time. His scene descriptions put me right there, crawling through the sewers, sweltering in the New York heat.
So what don’t I like? There are a few complaints I could make about most young new writers. First, the story’s choppy. Part of that is because Hunt’s writing style is jumpy. Not stream of consciousness, but definitely not smooth. He tries to weave the backstory into the plot and runs into a few bumps. Second, Guthrie has an astounding number of friends who owe him favors. Every time the story hits a snag, Guthrie comes up with a friend in high places who bales them out. Is that realistic? Maybe. Not sure. Third, there are oddly-phrased sentences. See if you agree:
- Guthrie’s shot squeezed in between the lighter bullets like a zesty piece of roast beef sandwiched between two slices of plain light bread
- “You were doing something there that could get somebody shut up.”
- As the afternoon declined…
- Steady running earned grudging passage from the trees…
By the way, I love the backstory on the title. I won’t give it away, but think ‘rich’, ‘historic’, and ‘worth waiting for’.
Because of newbie mistakes, I’d probably give this 3.5, but that’s not available, so I’ll round up. Alaric–you owe me half a point in your next book.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.