Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: A DARK TIME by Dennis Bradford

Story: A college student vanishes. Her worried grandfather asks one of her favorite professors, Max Stephansson, to solve the mystery. What Max discovers is tragic. The suspense surrounding her disappearance unfolds to yield insight, but at the cost of danger and death.

My thoughts: There is nothing better than a good “who done it?” mystery, especially when they’re so intricately crafted that they keep the reader constantly wary and on their toes. Well, this book dealt well with the intricacies, but it didn’t keep me on my toes. I’ll admit there were a few peaking points of interests throughout, but I failed to see the thrill overall.

My first query had to do with this itchy wonder of why someone would ask a humanities professor to investigate a disappearance. Why, because the girl was one of his students at one time? Most professors won’t even remember a student. But, for some reason, our main character did, and, even though he had no investigative experience, he took the case. Still, I found Max to be intelligent and pensive, one who thought of clues like a Rubik’s cube—looking at things from all angles and perspectives, twisting and turning to see what fit. His novice approach offered an interesting view on the case, but it lacked that bold gusto that usually jumps out at the reader. Perhaps it is why I felt the investigation was slow and daunting. The plot accelerated a bit once the girl showed up dead, but it quickly lapsed and regained that same insipid flow.

I thought the writing was, in general, good—except for a few technical editing issues that can be overlooked. Some of the language was a little odd though. For instance, “She proceeded me into the bathroom.” (pg. 29) Whether or not this was a typo, I couldn’t say. I guess, technically, it worked, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that makes you flinch—like a sting to an open wound. Ouch!

The book was very well-researched and clearly an indication of the writer’s passion, but I just wasn’t thrilled by it. I would’ve liked more action, more danger, some jokes even—just something to keep me turning the pages. I guess you would need to think of this book like a chess game—a slow, steady learning expedition of calculated moves. Well, I prefer mysteries to be like checkers—where opponents go in for the kill.

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