Synopsis: John Reeves drives to Myrtle Beach to confront his fiancée, hoping to repair their damaged relationship. Instead, he finds her unconscious in the local hospital, the victim of an unexplained explosion at a local restaurant. During his investigation, Reeves meets Billy Hitchings, a teenager who knows more about the explosion than he should. Their questions lead to an ancient legacy best left alone. Pulled into yet another crossfire, John Reeves fights to protect his friends and keep a primeval power from falling into the wrong hands.
Review: I enjoy action/adventure stories where there are good guys trying to beat out the bad guys in a high stakes enterprise with multiple plot twists and reversals. If there’s a paranormal element to the story, so much the better. The Fall of Billy Hitchings (A John Reeves Novel) by Kirkus MacGowan had all of that, so I should have liked it.
Unfortunately, the plot had holes and many of the characters didn’t ring true.
One of the main tenets of the author/reader contract is that there won’t be any plot holes. A plot hole can occur when a story thread is dropped (hey, whatever happened to Susie Q? Last we saw she was hanging over a pit of vipers waiting for rescue, and now the book is over) or, when the narrator sets out parameters on a story device, and then violates them. (The bomb cannot blow up underwater. BOOM, big, splashy explosion). This is not to say that characters cannot be mistaken, or even lying, but the reader usually needs to be in on it. If the reader isn’t in on it, he/she must be able to look back and grin, thinking, “ooo, I should have seen that coming.” Otherwise, the reader feels lied to. And an Omniscient Narrator should not lie to the reader. An ON can be mistaken, deluded, or deceived, but not a liar. (As always, there are exceptions to this rule. This book isn’t one of them.) I can’t go into the specifics without major spoilers, but I will say that it frustrates me when the narrator turns out to be unreliable with no foreshadowing.
Young Billy Hitchings believes he has a great destiny, as do many young men his age. John Reeves is on a quest to get his girl back after making a terrible, and really stupid mistake. I sympathized with Billy. I even believed that perhaps he had the seeds of greatness in him and I was rooting for him from start to finish. John, on the other hand, never managed to win my sympathy or support. I need a main character I can root for, one I can empathize with on some level, even if he’s a thoroughly bad person. John isn’t a bad person, but he does come off as kind of a schmuck, which I can’t hang with in a protagonist. A bad person with redeeming qualities, you have hope for. A schmuck with redeeming qualities, not so much.
There were several engaging characters and the protagonist(s?) were good guys with some major flaws. Some of the writing was excellent and the premise was fascinating. There were secrets to be discovered and John Reeves is definitely a saucy, intelligent hero with demons to conquer even as he takes on his current challenges. So it should have been a great read. Unfortunately it was only an OK read. Not terrible, but mildly frustrating and unpredictable in a unsatisfying way.
Author Bio: Kirkus is a husband, father, former baseball player and current author. You can read more of his musings here.