Official Review: Postcard for a dead ringer

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Miriam Molina
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Official Review: Postcard for a dead ringer

Post by Miriam Molina » 29 Aug 2019, 17:48

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Postcard for a dead ringer" by Forrest Cleeton. As per:- C.J.Forrest.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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We travel to Queensland in Australia for this detective story set in the late 1980s. Meet newly-minted detective Craig Morton, eager to land his first major job. Superintendent McClure himself tasks him with the capture of escaped suspect Charles Taylor. Taylor is said to have murdered fellow sheep shearer Joe Balsham over a gambling dispute at the rear parking lot of Charleville Hotel. Morton’s mandate is to apprehend Taylor and find convincing evidence of the crime.

Morton goes from Brisbane to sheep-town Charleville for his quest. He gets to know the Charleville Hotel staff, the victim’s wife and neighbor graziers (Australian sheep raisers), and a hodge-podge of other characters. During his fact-finding, Morton discovers interesting angles to the crime and identifies other people who would benefit from Joe Balsham’s demise. Is Taylor the murderer, or is he just an unfortunate fall guy?

In Postcard for a Dead Ringer, C. J. Forrest gives us an overview of the Australian wool industry and the life of sheep raisers. This is my first experience in the world of sheep raising, and I appreciate the new learnings. However, the cover made me assume there would be horses in the story; I do not recall spotting any equine therein. The author may want to try another cover as the title also makes one think of horses, the racing kind.

As it is set in Australia, the story introduces a lot of “mates” who add spice to Morton’s sleuthing. Forrest presents his characters with backgrounds that make each both unique and relatable. Each new character adds a puzzle piece that allows the reader to see the crime scene slowly taking shape. I was particularly impressed with the intriguing backstories of the victim and the villain. The history of the villain was totally unexpected, a major coup for the author.

The book is divided into 42 short chapters. The action was slow to unfold, though. The first twenty chapters dragged as the author took his time setting up the backdrop for the crime. To make up for the slow start, chapter 21 ushered in the excitement with surprising revelations which kept coming until the story culminated in a sweet ending. The reader will be thrilled by the details of a daring rescue, a side story about strange family relationships, and Mafia-like operations.

While the main plot centers on the search for the truth behind the killing of Joe Balsham, the endearing Morton also spends time searching for a romantic interest. To be sure, his quest for “the one” gave me more than a few chuckles.

I don’t regret my sojourn in Queensland, but the escapade could have been even more satisfying. The first half of the book could be livened up by pruning the dull portions. The detective also did a lot more than detecting, which may not be too lifelike. Lady readers might take offense at the sexist adjectives (e.g., “shapely,” “attractive,” “pretty,” and “delightful”) used to describe the women. It also seemed like Morton looked at most of the women he met as potential love interests; he flirted with many of them, although the flirting never graduated to anything indecent.

The most significant flaw is in the area of editing. The book has many grammatical mishaps: run-on sentences, sentence fragments, erroneous capitalization, missed prepositions, and misnamed characters. Dates should be validated, too. For instance, chapter one mentioned that the crime was committed in 1987. Subsequent references showed it happening in 1989. Another confusion was in the date of the graziers’ meeting: It was earlier advertised as an event on June 10. The actual meeting was held on September 12.

As noted earlier, I am wondering about the author’s title and cover. There may be a good reason for the curious choices which Forrest may want to share with international readers who are not familiar with the Australian wool industry.

I believe the book will entertain crime fanatics, real-life sleuths, those familiar with farm life, and those intrigued about raising sheep. For now, I give the book 2 out of 4 stars, but Forrest can easily earn more stars by addressing the flaws cited. The book is definitely not a substitute for counting sheep.

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Postcard for a dead ringer
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Post by LauraLeeWasHere » 31 Aug 2019, 05:06

What a great review. Even though you didn't enjoy this book as much as you probably wanted to, I was glad to see that you took into consideration all the different demographics and which ones would enjoy it more than others. And why. Also, I'm a sucker for a good turn of phrase, of which you included several. "pruning" some of the duller parts out. Loved it.
This book may actually be right up my alley but what I really want to know is where do I go to get YOUR next book. Or even just settle for a link or suggestion for something you gave the entire 4 stars!
Thanks for your efforts, advice and help.
Sincerely, Laura-Lee
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. John 21:25 KJV

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Miriam Molina
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Post by Miriam Molina » 31 Aug 2019, 05:21

LauraLeeWasHere wrote: ↑
31 Aug 2019, 05:06
What a great review. Even though you didn't enjoy this book as much as you probably wanted to, I was glad to see that you took into consideration all the different demographics and which ones would enjoy it more than others. And why. Also, I'm a sucker for a good turn of phrase, of which you included several. "pruning" some of the duller parts out. Loved it.
This book may actually be right up my alley but what I really want to know is where do I go to get YOUR next book. Or even just settle for a link or suggestion for something you gave the entire 4 stars!
Thanks for your efforts, advice and help.
Sincerely, Laura-Lee
Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Laura Lee! You may click my name to see my profile and the link to my reviews. I have given four stars to only four definitely deserving books, but there are three-starrers that are really wonderful reads too.

I eagerly await your first review. Welcome to OBC!
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Post by LauraLeeWasHere » 31 Aug 2019, 05:36

Thanks. I'll head over to your profile. Keep 'em coming.
Right now I'm just enjoying the reading and I suppose I'll have to do more of the "taking notes and getting down to the business of reviewing" part later.
Love LL
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. John 21:25 KJV

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Post by Prisallen » 01 Sep 2019, 08:36

It sounds as though this has the potential for a really good book if the problems you mentioned were addressed. Thanks for a great review, as always!

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Miriam Molina
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Post by Miriam Molina » 01 Sep 2019, 09:37

Prisallen wrote: ↑
01 Sep 2019, 08:36
It sounds as though this has the potential for a really good book if the problems you mentioned were addressed. Thanks for a great review, as always!
Thanks for the kind words, as always!
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Post by kdstrack » 02 Sep 2019, 19:09

Sheep raising would be a new category to learn about! I like the outback settting, but the slow start might be frustrating. This was an interesting and entertaining review. Thanks.

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Miriam Molina
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Post by Miriam Molina » 03 Sep 2019, 04:20

kdstrack wrote: ↑
02 Sep 2019, 19:09
Sheep raising would be a new category to learn about! I like the outback settting, but the slow start might be frustrating. This was an interesting and entertaining review. Thanks.
Baa, I did learn interesting things about those fluffy animals. I hope Forrest can address the issues soonest. Thanks for visiting!
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Post by Mbrooks2518 » 07 Sep 2019, 08:30

I think I'll skip this one for now because of the slow first half. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 07 Sep 2019, 14:27

Aussies and sheep - what a great context! Shame the Sheilas were stereotyped. Thanks for a thorough and interesting review, as always.

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Post by Miriam Molina » 07 Sep 2019, 18:23

Mbrooks2518 wrote: ↑
07 Sep 2019, 08:30
I think I'll skip this one for now because of the slow first half. Thanks for the great review!
The author really needs to perk up those first twenty chapters!
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Miriam Molina
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Post by Miriam Molina » 07 Sep 2019, 18:32

ButterscotchCherrie wrote: ↑
07 Sep 2019, 14:27
Aussies and sheep - what a great context! Shame the Sheilas were stereotyped. Thanks for a thorough and interesting review, as always.
Thanks, mate! Interesting comment, as usual.
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Post by sarahmarlowe » 07 Sep 2019, 19:09

Well, sheep.

I enjoy reading books set in Australia because I like learning things about their many different cultures and traditions. I don't think this book is one I will pick up. I wouldn't make it halfway through the book. Congratulations on your perseverance!
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Miriam Molina
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Post by Miriam Molina » 07 Sep 2019, 19:29

sarahmarlowe wrote: ↑
07 Sep 2019, 19:09
Well, sheep.

I enjoy reading books set in Australia because I like learning things about their many different cultures and traditions. I don't think this book is one I will pick up. I wouldn't make it halfway through the book. Congratulations on your perseverance!
Australia is a mystery by itself. Its culture, wildlife, and history are all unique. I don't mind learning more about this country-continent down under.

Thanks for visiting!
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Post by Wyland » 08 Sep 2019, 00:28

It will be interesting to see if this new detective will be up to the task of capturing the murder suspect Taylor. Thanks for the wonderful review.

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