3 out of 4 stars
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Pancake Money by Finn Bell is a crime thriller that involves action, detective work and a focus on the emotional world of the protagonist and the criminals he faces. Detective Bobby Ress, our main hero, is an experienced police officer with the soul of a child. One day he receives a call to go to a gruesome murder scene. There, he and his partner, whose name is Pollo, come face to face not only with the worst face of humanity but also with an untrackable murderer that will give them their hardest time. While investigating the case, Bobby has to be a proper father and be there for his family, while also learning that not everything is black and white.
The plot of the story is gripping with nice twists. What makes the book stand out is the research the author has done in terms of psychology and sociology. His descriptions of the psychological world of the criminals are pretty accurate supported by good reasons as to why they behave in a bad way, bringing to the spotlight the issues of the justice system when dealing with a complex human being. All this is tied together with realistic action, making the book thoroughly enjoyable.
Despite the story being promising and well made by someone that obviously has put effort and love in it, I believe it's not delivering what it could. The author focuses on pain and its side-effects, which is the root cause and effect of most of the world's problems, but he doesn't go in depth. He could examine: how a mistake can cause pain, which in turn has an unintended ripple effect; how pain is caused by a person that wants the unearned, for example, money without merit, love without respect, getting something of value without giving value in exchange, etc. All those are caused by various causes, pain and the inability to overcome it getting the bigger slices of the pie; but not examining the branches of the tree of pain won't give a clear image as to why something is wrong. Another thing I didn't like was that in-between the action it had repetitive filler details that offer little to nothing in the story.
The author includes his thoughts, after the ending, about certain topics related to the theme of his book. Even though I don't fully agree with some of them, I love how he gives a piece of his mind and I wish more authors were doing the same. Since some may not agree with that, I will leave it up to you to decide if that's a pro or a con.
Overall I give it a solid 3 out of 4 stars for its interesting and captivating story, the realism, and the thoughtful views of the author about people that haven't done good choices in their lives. I would recommend it to those that look for a good quality thriller that leaves out the Hollywood-like action.
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