Official Review: Man Behind the Masks

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jvez
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Official Review: Man Behind the Masks

Post by jvez » 03 May 2018, 15:18

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Man Behind the Masks" by Anne Elizabeth Nixon.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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People assume roles to meld into the society or to be able to hide secrets they do not want anyone to uncover. For ‘Reverend’ Eddie Smith, who has long abandoned his past, being a devoted husband and a kindhearted preacher are the only roles that matter in his life. He has created his own set of masks for these two roles, and by far, he has worn his masks quite well.

In Man Behind the Masks by Anne Elizabeth Nixon, the con artist Eddie poses as a Reverend to collect money from believers and wealthy people involved in charity works. He uses his eloquence and charm to bait people into donating for impoverished citizens in Zambia, Guatemala, and other places he’s actually never been. His partner-in-crime is his equally charming wife, Tilly, whose acting chops and sexiness can definitely rake in more cash. Believing that there are more people they can scam outside California, Eddie convinces Tilly to trade their life in California for a life on the road. And to get their life on the road started, Eddie then performs the best scheme in his life. He tricks the widow Eleanor into selling him her motorhome for a price way cheaper than its real market value. But as Eddie and Tilly embark on their journey, twists and turns along the way eventually lead Eddie to question whether he has worn his masks as well as he thought.

This book will be a fun read for people who love stories about con artists and those who enjoy stories written in the point of view of the antagonists. Please note that the book contains a good amount of swearing and a scene portraying murder. If these make you feel uncomfortable, then it’s best not to read the book.

Man Behind the Masks is mainly about the ups and downs in the life of a con artist as he travels with his demanding wife. The author is notably adept at describing the military pilot drills Eddie and Tilly happened to chance upon. I also appreciate how the author depicted in detail the prayer meetings Eddie attended. It would have been better if the author exerted as much effort in describing other scenes and settings. The characters drove to various cities and states in America and even went to Canada, but I couldn’t really tell the differences among these places due to the lack of descriptions.

Eddie and Tilly also tried to hoodwink a number of characters. I commend how the author managed to develop disparate supporting characters, which made the scenes featuring Eddie and Tilly’s conning business quite interesting. I did, however, observe that the author tends to use the same names for different characters. I had to jump back to past chapters to recheck if the author is referring to the same person or not. But because the author also did not provide ample descriptions of the characters, rechecking previous chapters did not help confirm anything.

The author also included Bible verses at the end of every chapter which further elaborates the religious versus sacrilegious theme of the book. I just wish all the verses reinforced the events of the chapters. Some verses did hit the mark, but some felt out of place.

Nonetheless, my biggest issue in this book are the two main characters. I just can’t like or connect with any of them. If the author intended for her main characters to be unlikable, she certainly achieved that. Apart from being a con artist, who can only portray a preacher and no other profession, Eddie did not have any redeeming quality. I cannot really consider him smart, whether book smart or street smart. He was just eloquent, and that skill has its own limits. Meanwhile, the beautiful and sexy Tilly was also merely that, beautiful and sexy. She did show some character development later in the book, but that’s a long way to go for readers. A shorter length may have been beneficial to this book since some scenes became quite repetitive toward the end. Moreover, having to read 300 pages about two unlikable characters can be a bit taxing.

I chose to read this book because its title, Man Behind Masks, definitely caught my attention. However, the ‘behind masks’ part was actually never fully explored. There were snippets regarding Eddie’s dysfunctional family, but there was no detailed discussion about his childhood experiences. Eddie clearly has psychological issues and even homicidal tendencies, but the lack of a solid background to explain these issues made his character a bit bland. The author could have described Eddie’s past experiences and thoughts more profoundly for readers to understand why he became a con artist in the first place.

This book also needs another round of editing. I observed some typos and a number of missing commas. Perhaps some parts of the narrative could also be tightened to improve the story's pacing.

Man Behind Masks is a mishmash of hits and misses which made it difficult for me to give a final evaluation. Nonetheless, there is a fair amount of positives to compensate for the negatives; thus, I’m also giving the book a fair rating of 2 out of 4 stars. Had the author delved deeper into Eddie’s mental state and past struggles, I would have given this book a higher rating.

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Man Behind the Masks
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Sahani Nimandra
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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 05 May 2018, 00:30

Thank you a deep descriptive review. Through your review I understand how people tend to lead a life founded on a bunch of lies and how it can end horribly to people like that. Living one day truthfully is far better than living a life of hundred years based on a lie. Thank you!
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Post by jvez » 05 May 2018, 02:42

Sahani Nimandra wrote:
05 May 2018, 00:30
Thank you a deep descriptive review. Through your review I understand how people tend to lead a life founded on a bunch of lies and how it can end horribly to people like that. Living one day truthfully is far better than living a life of hundred years based on a lie. Thank you!
This book does offer so many lessons in life. I just noticed some issues, but beyond those, the story does have really beautiful meanings. Thanks for reading my review :)

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Post by Lu_rire » 05 May 2018, 14:12

Man Behind the Masks is a catchy and intriguing title. The premise also sounds interesting. It's a pity the book failed to live up to expectations.

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Post by Libs_Books » 05 May 2018, 14:41

To be fair to the author, I suppose it must be difficult to write about con artists if you don't want to go down the "lovable rogue" line - full credit to her for not doing that. Trouble is, as you say, you then end up with a book about unpleasant people, which is a bit of a turn-off for the reader. It does rather sound as though the author failed to make the most of opportunities to turn the book into something more interesting at a deeper level. A professional editor might have spotted this. Great analysis in your review, though - makes for an interesting read.

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Post by kandscreeley » 06 May 2018, 11:03

It's a shame about the main characters. Sometimes I don't understand stories told from the "bad guys" perspective. Because it just seems like there isn't anything more to their character than doing bad. Thanks for this one, but I'm not going to read it.
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Post by jvez » 07 May 2018, 00:31

Lu_rire wrote:
05 May 2018, 14:12
Man Behind the Masks is a catchy and intriguing title. The premise also sounds interesting. It's a pity the book failed to live up to expectations.
Thank you for reading my review. And yes it has a very promising premise, and I think just a few tweaks will make this book really good. Thanks again for dropping by.

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Post by jvez » 07 May 2018, 00:35

Libs_Books wrote:
05 May 2018, 14:41
To be fair to the author, I suppose it must be difficult to write about con artists if you don't want to go down the "lovable rogue" line - full credit to her for not doing that. Trouble is, as you say, you then end up with a book about unpleasant people, which is a bit of a turn-off for the reader. It does rather sound as though the author failed to make the most of opportunities to turn the book into something more interesting at a deeper level. A professional editor might have spotted this. Great analysis in your review, though - makes for an interesting read.
I guess you have a point with not going down the 'lovable rogue' line. That's too overdone as well. But perhaps the characters need a little more depth for it got a bit exhausting having to read the same con acts over and over. The plot is really good though and I think just some editing would really make the book a great read.

Thanks so much for reading my review and sharing your insights :)

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Post by jvez » 07 May 2018, 00:39

kandscreeley wrote:
06 May 2018, 11:03
It's a shame about the main characters. Sometimes I don't understand stories told from the "bad guys" perspective. Because it just seems like there isn't anything more to their character than doing bad. Thanks for this one, but I'm not going to read it.
Thank you for reading my review :) I think it's really difficult to like stories on bad guys. And ultimately it will depend on how the author twists the story. I've read some stories centering on the villains wherein no matter how much I hated the character I just can't stop reading because of the good writing and the exciting plot.

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Post by Sarah Tariq » 07 May 2018, 00:52

Con artist Eddie is a very interesting one. Even we see such characters in our daily life, who like to grab money for some charity work or religious based activity. Thanks for your interesting review.
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Post by jvez » 07 May 2018, 01:03

Sarah Tariq wrote:
07 May 2018, 00:52
Con artist Eddie is a very interesting one. Even we see such characters in our daily life, who like to grab money for some charity work or religious based activity. Thanks for your interesting review.
Thanks for reading this comment. And yes I agree. Eddie represents the fake prophets that do exist in real life. I just wished the author added more into his character apart from being just a con-artist. Had the author done that I'm sure this would have been a great book.

Thanks again for commenting :)

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Post by kfwilson6 » 07 May 2018, 08:55

I was interested to read this review because the cover art and title quickly captured my attention. You did a great job of describing the plot and relating the pros and cons. It started off sounding like an interesting book but when an author writes from the perspective of the villain, it is a difficult thing to do. They aren't always relatable or likeable, which, since it is the villain is expected in a lot of cases, but there has to be something intriguing about them. I think it has potential, but needs work in the areas you described. Great job.

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Post by kdstrack » 08 May 2018, 21:28

The first part of the review had me hopeful! The plot seems interesting, so it's disappointing the book didn't deliver. Thanks for your review.

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Post by teacherjh » 17 May 2018, 14:42

This sounded appealing at first, but if the 'bad guy' never changes, I don't think it's for me. Thanks.

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