Wednesday, December 5, 2012
DarkBeat by James Solo
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Book Info: Genre: Noir Thriller (per publisher)/Horror with Ritualistic themes (Santeria) (per me)
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those into horror and not bothered by my triggers or the head-hopping
Trigger Warnings: Violence again animals (goat, rooster, dog); Violence again women (violent assault, rape of wife)
Disclosure: I received an e-galley copy of this book from Iguana Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: It never should’ve happened: in the late 1980s, a case of mistaken identity turns into a successful musician’s worst nightmare. After a brutal encounter with an out-of-control cop, drummer Adrian Lee makes his way to the wilds of Cuba where his involvement in a primitive religion sparks a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, eventually escalating into a no-holds-barred conflict with a horrific conclusion.
My Thoughts: This is a very intricate story, with several interweaving plots that move closer and closer together. It has a large cast and a very ambitious idea behind it. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me.
The main problem I had with this story was it mostly stayed outside of people’s heads, making it feel more like a movie than a book. While there were sections that gave us some more immediacy – the sections involving Ricardo, for example – in many of the other sections there was way too much telling and not nearly enough showing. When it did move into people’s heads, it hopped from head to head at random, which is very disconcerting. There were also some really ugly scenes of violence against both animals and women that were most difficult to read, so beware my trigger warning.
I am no practitioner of Santeria and I’ve only ever met one, probably a good 15 to 17 years go, with whom I have since lost touch, so I’m no expert. However, I don’t believe this is really a fair and accurate assessment of the true nature of the average practitioner of Santeria. Just like witchcraft and voodoo, the nature of the religion and more extreme practices of the rituals are used out of context or exaggerated in order to make things more exciting. I had hoped this would be more accurate, but I guess I’m not terribly surprised at how it turned out.
This book was, overall, simply not one I enjoyed very much. The violence against animals, the violence against women, the extreme notions of Santeria... I liked Chuck Nolan and Rita Barrett, but didn’t much care for any of the other characters. I imagine plenty of other readers will end up liking this book, so don’t let me put you off reading it, but for me? This is not one I have any interest in reading again.
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