3 out of 4 stars
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Tetterbaum’s Truth by S.R. Claridge is the story of Angel Martin, a simple and naïve girl who’s nursing a broken heart. She tries to deal with the sorrow of getting abandoned by her ex-fiancé, Tony, by purchasing and running Tetterbaum’s Pub – uninformed that it is the most prominent Mafia hang out in Chicago. Her life takes an extremely dangerous turn when secrets begin to spill and blood paints her hands. Angel’s whole existence has been crafted in order for her identity to remain hidden, but from what? No one can be trusted in this dangerous game of vengeance and it is Angel’s job to find the truth without losing everything she has ever cared for along the way.
This is the first installment in the Just Call Me Angel series. Mrs. Claridge introduces us to the vicious world of Italian Mafias where blood is easily spilled and no one could be trusted. The story starts at a pretty slow pace with Angel portrayed as a normal – and at times boring – character with a smart mouth and a decent sense of humor. Despite radiating a cheerful aura, especially with her colleagues, Angel is suffering from the sudden disappearance of Tony and her ill choices display the consequences of such a hurtful action. She can’t say no to any man who shows the slightest bit of affection towards her, including Grayson – someone who keeps using her pain and need for reassurance to chase his own pleasures.
At first, the buildup of the plot didn’t capture my interest and I thought this would be another poor attempt at delving into the brutal world of Mafias. Angel didn’t seem like the kind of character I would enjoy reading a story about, simply because she was too immature and easily fooled by any man who shows even a small interest in her. However, I was proven wrong when the author begins to cleverly pull us into her traps, making us think that a character is good-willed when they’re actually a black seed. I really enjoyed the suspense of staying in the dark until the very end and getting shocked by plot twists after plot twists.
The description of the Italian Mafia and their merciless antics were realistically portrayed. The author made sure to add a bit of Italian slang and broken English during their conversations, which made the dialogues even more believable considering the characters’ Italian descent. Also, when some members of the Mafia developed a soft spot towards Angel, it still didn’t manage to change their ruthless nature and violent ways – specifically towards her. I commend the author for taking into account that it’s hard for someone to change their true selves and how they were brought up, even if it was for the sake of a loved one.
On the other hand, there were many points in the book the needed some improving. The characterizations, for example, were a bit shallow and lacked the strong foundation needed to create remarkable people. I didn’t find any of the individuals within the book to hold a gripping and interesting personality – if we ignore the fact that all of them were hiding skeletons in their closet. All of them had a quirky sense of humor and were keeping secrets, but that was as deep as they go. Maybe Giovanni was the only character that sparked my interest and had a memorable role in the storyline, purely because his sense of justice contradicted with his violent actions towards his loved ones. Giovanni's character was enigmatic, cunning and held my attention until the end because I couldn't decide whether he was the villain or the savior. Sadly, the rest of the characters were unable to hold my concentration for as long.
The book seemed to be professionally edited and proofread since I didn't find any grammar mistakes or typos.
For the reasons above, I will be rating this book 3 out of 4 stars. I immensely enjoyed the plot and the author’s talent in creating a solid and gripping storyline until the very end. However, if we remove the interesting storyline and the violent scenes, we are left with a bunch of dull characters with a need for revenge and nothing else. I recommend this book for ages above 16 since it contains mild violence and triggering content. I would also recommend it for lovers of a good mystery/thriller book and never-ending suspense, but not for readers searching for unforgettable characters.
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