3 out of 4 stars
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When Chicago cop, Dean Wister is forced to take a vacation, he sees it as an opportunity to grieve over the loss of his wife. He returns to Jackson Hole, where the couple met, in hopes of achieving some manner of peace. Early into his trip, however, he is called by the local police force after a dead Chicago Mobster is found dead in Snake River. What is a hit-man from Chicago doing in a small town like Jackson Hole? Why has one of the town’s most beloved residents been murdered? And what does any of this have to do with the Presidential Campaign? While Dean’s investigation distracts him from having to truly cope with the death of his wife, it threatens to unravel a web of secrets which, if revealed, will have consequences that extend much further than the small tourist town.
Overall, I found the plot of The Grand by Dennis D. Wilson enjoyable to read and easy to follow. However, I disliked the inclusion of the ghost of the protagonist’s wife, Sarah. While it was interesting to witness the romantic dynamic between Sarah and Dean as well as examine Dean’s mental state, Sarah’s ghost did little in service to the novel. Through experiencing the interactions between her and Dean, the reader is not illuminated to any aspect of the protagonist’s character. The inclusion of the ghost character does not drive the plot forward in any manner. The limited scenes that include her are mostly geared toward sex, which makes her feel like a throw-away character that is only used to present an element of romance. While Sarah’s ghost does provide the protagonist with an outlet to hash out his thoughts, the same effect could have been attained by Dean merely reminiscing about things that she had said to help him while she was alive. The Sarah-ghost also mentions a gut feeling she had which turns out to connect the initial murder to the crime syndicate, however similarly to the example above, Dean very well could have happened upon this conclusion on his own. All of this said Sarah’s ghost does not damage the novel in any way.
What does damage the integrity of the novel and what I disliked the most about The Grand is the expository syntax. Dennis D. Wilson writes in incredibly long sentences. Although these sentences are more often grammatically correct than they are incorrect, they become tiresome to read. Despite being highly intrigued by the story, I found myself frequently having to put down the novel for a break. There are also considerable tense inconsistencies throughout the work that distracted me. Because of these reasons, I could not give this work a 4 out of 4 rating.
However, what I found lacking in the novel did not diminish my overall enjoyment of the work which is why I give it a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. Wilson crafted a vibrant story. The Grand is not your run-of-the-mill, easy-to-solve mysteries. From the way that Wilson railroads the reader with new characters and new leads to the way that he shapes the intricate web that connects them all, he keeps the reader guessing at every turn. I particularly enjoyed how Wilson introduces character after character seemingly without any link, only for the pieces of the puzzle to come together to create an elaborate and colorful story-line. Of course, this is a personal preference. I would not recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a straightforward read. You will not find that in this novel. If you have a hard time keeping up with a long list of characters, I would not suggest this book to you either. The speed with which Wilson introduces all his characters can be dizzying. I happen to find that style of writing intriguing and think that it worked very well in this novel. Wilson keeps you on your toes with every chapter, a choice which I think strengthens his work as a thriller. Adrenaline coursed through my body with every revelation and if it weren’t for the stumbling blocks in execution, I would have finished the work in a single sitting.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in politics, crime, thrillers or mysteries. I would also recommend this work to anyone who is looking to read something new. Even when compared to other novels in the same genre, The Grand stands apart. With a unique story and interesting characters, Wilson’s work would interest even the most cynical reader. If thrillers are generally not in your genre wheelhouse, read The Grand, it might change your outlook on Thrillers forever. But of course, if you love Thrillers and enjoy getting taken on a disorienting ride with twists and turns than The Grand is the right novel for you.
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