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Book review – for readers and writers – no.138: Morgen Bailey reviews Diamond Run by Michael Croucher

09 Dec

Today’s book review of a crime novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

Diamond Run by Michael Croucher

138 Diamond Run coverSynopsis: A story of underworld diamond heists gone wild, this is a terrifying spin through the ruthlessness of organized crime and the fright of a woman who finds herself the quarry. From New York City to Ontario, Canada, criminals and police are in a deadly race.

Caught unaware in their web, Sue Jensen is on her own chilling trail. Her beautiful Victorian house in the Canadian wine country is haunted. Since research is her business, she wants to find out who is the ghost slipping into bed with her at night. Will she discover far more than she ever imagined? Is it possible to put ghosts to rest?

Sergeant Phil Mahood, in a desperate undercover battle against the psychotic mobster-killer who will stop at nothing for diamonds, can only drop vague hints to Sue about the looming danger. Skeptical of her ghost stories and falling in love with her, he is torn as never before.

As the two investigations are about to collide, can Phil be the support Sue needs in her personal quest for the deep secrets of her home? Can he rescue her from the cold-blooded killer who stops at nothing and no one? With his world shaken to the core by Sue’s fear of ghostly presences he does not believe in, and his new love with Sue clouding his professional judgment, will Phil’s mobster targets stay steady in the crosshairs? This is crime suspense at its best.

This novel is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diamond-Run-Phil-Mahood-Book-ebook/dp/B012EKPYIQ and http://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Run-Phil-Mahood-Book-ebook/dp/B012EKPYIQ.

Review (of the eBook’s text-to-speech function)

The chapters are subtitled with the place and date, helping the reader before the narration starts.

Just five Kindle pages in to chapter 1, and we have two dead bodies – my kind of story.🙂

The character names are interesting, my favourites being Zip, Clifford, Lemon and Jasper, although I would not have had Frank and Phil in the same chapter as audibly, they both start with an F.

One of the characters is a staff sergeant and he is referred to as ‘Staff’ then in the same chapter ‘staff’ is referred to as a noun, which would be less confusing if referred to ‘colleagues’.

The era and procedures felt very authentic, I enjoyed the reference to candid camera.

Both the description and dialogue are very gritty. Some of the dialogue between Sue and Phil initially felt a little stilted but it transpired that they had not dated for very long and their meeting was complicated so understandable.

Chapters are relatively short so can be done in one sitting and there is a good mixture of description and dialogue.

There was one sentence that jarred: ‘I left it there as we walked, enjoying the soft warmth of her skin.’ This implies that they are both enjoying a self month of her skin, which is possible, but I think the author meant just for Phil to be enjoying it.

Speaking of enjoying it, there is a lot to like about this novel, including the phrase ‘A parked car sticks out like a hooker’ and ‘clung to his blubbery torso like a coat of paint’.

I didn’t find the sexy chapters particularly sexy but then I’m not a big romance reader. I’m not a fan of paranormal either so the ‘ghostly’ references were my least favourite but fans of this genre would enjoy them.

And now for writers…

– Cliches included ‘his stomach turned’, ‘wouldn’t hurt a fly’, ‘stone-faced’, ‘a bag of hammers’, ‘raised their hackles’, ‘ramrod straight’, ‘stopped me in my tracks’, and I’ve never liked sparkling eyes. Clichés are best avoided especially in narration, and limited – if used at all – in dialogue.

– Something I mention a regular basis in these reviews is being careful where you have two characters of the same gender in the same section. It is very easy to say him when he or her means one character but the reader might interpret it as another character, the last one mentioned, and it happened on a few occasions in this novel.

– Also when writing in past tense, or present tense, that you stay within the correct tense. Early in chapter 1, which is written in past tense, we have ‘The inner door – also but I controlled – was closed and locked as it should be’ then later in the same chapter: ‘those letters of credit must also go into the safe’. They would be present tense in dialogue, but should have been the past tense in narration.

– There are a few ‘started to’s and ‘began to’s, and loads of ‘well’s at the beginning of dialogue sentences – all points picked up on a far-too-regular basis in my reviews. Something I haven’t noticed before but spotted in this novel was a lot of the dialogue starting ‘you know’, especially when spoken by Charles. It’s fine to have a character trait, to have someone speaking regular saying, but when it becomes too obvious to the reader then it can be overdone. Having said that, reading for review will mean that I am going to be more picky than a normal reader.

– I have also previously mentioned body part and there was a ‘shrugged my shoulders’ and ‘shrugged her shoulders’, where in both instances we can lose the reference to the shoulders because we don’t shrug from any other part of our anatomy.

– There weren’t too many adverbs but an example here is losing the ‘tightly’ from ‘tightly clasped’ because to clasp something is to hold it tightly.

– There are a couple of times where it felt like exposition; where two characters talking are revealing information that they already know and we are just loading the for the benefit of the reader. Other than that the dialogue was very realistic, with characters pausing and interrupting each other, as we do.

– There are instances where they could be minor trimming to avoid repetition, eg ‘I phoned there and order copies. They made the copies while they talk to me…’ The second instance of copies could be just ‘them’. Ditto with ‘bank’ in ‘…and entered a TD Bank. Three days earlier he had been in the same bank and opened a small bank account…’ (and the first bank should be ‘bank’ because it’s ‘a…’ rather ‘the’ therefore it’s an object rather than title.

– Be careful of splitting your infinitives. There weren’t too many here but one example would be ‘She’d brought the party up’ rather than ‘She’d brought up the party…’ is something to be aware of in your writing.

Conclusion

There is a great mixture of conflict – external and internal, viewpoint and tense changes, and plenty of plot for the reader to get grips with.

Given that Sue is implied as the main character in the synopsis, I would’ve liked more initial chapters from her point of view, and she’s written in third person rather than first person which is reserved for Sergeant Phil Mahood.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service, and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

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If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

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Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in writing

 

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