Monday, October 15, 2012

Indy Review: A Death Displaced by Andrew Butcher

A Death Displaced
Andrew Butcher

Overall ** Plot ** Interactions **1/2 Characters *** World **** Originality **** Grammar *** Style ****

Nick Crystan is a man without much of a purpose in life. He spends his time trying to find enlightenment in various ways and ekes by with part time work in a new-age shop on Lansin Island. “A Death Displaced” begins with Nick having a startling and realistic vision of a woman falling to her death. A few days later when Nick recognizes the early parts of his vision are actually occurring, he acts fast to save the life of the woman, Juliet.

Although Juliet doesn't stick around to thank Nick, this experience seems to indicate that maybe life has a purpose for Nick after all. He begins having prophetic visions that he struggles to understand.

Juliet finds her life changed as well. Since the accident, she feels oddly disconnected from the world and is told by a seer that she should have died that day and now her spirit resided in the spirit realm while her body is still alive. Because of this, she can now see the spirits of the departed. She has a visit from Nick's mother, who seemingly abandoned her family when Nick was young. Samantha Crystan asks Juliet to find her son Nick and tell him to go to Grendel Manor.

Juliet does as she is asked and she and Nick are thrown together to try and solve the mystery of Samantha Crystan's disappearance.

For the most part, despite several errors that should have been picked up in the proofreading, the prose in “A Death Displaced” is good and after the first few chapters the characters are engaging and three dimensional. The mystery surrounding Samantha's disappearance lead Juliet and Nick to discover some interesting history of the island and introduces some intriguing characters. Nick and Juliet have an instant attraction to each other that has a promise of romance and a nice hook to provide urgency to the plot.

“A Death Displaced” is Andrew Butcher's first novel and suffers from some structural issues that I am increasingly discovering are fairly typical of self-published books. As I mentioned above, the characters and story are engaging, but the pacing could use some tweaking and tightening.

In the first couple of chapters, Nick was such a wet rag of a person, that I wondered if I really cared what happened to him, but as the story unfolds, we discover more of his past and his general attitude towards life gets explained.

Mr. Butcher make some odd choices in the plot. For me, the climax of the book arrived too soon and without sufficient tension to really be satisfying. After the climax, Juliet and Nick find themselves at odds and the story follows them as they try to figure out what happened and how to move on. Then, instead of coming to a more satisfying conclusion, the story line switches to a new character who, until now, has played a bit part in the story and has little reader sympathy.

In general, it left me wondering why I had read the last 20% of the book.

It's obvious that “A Death Displaced” was intended as an introduction to future books in the series and if you read it with that in mind, you might not find the structure as off putting as I did. As I stated earlier, the writing itself is strong, the setting is interesting and the premise is intriguing. It shows that Mr. Butcher has the potential to create some excellent works in the future. Having invested the time to read the first book, I will be likely to pick up the second if the reviews look good.

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