4 out of 4 stars
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Sandusky Burning is a fictional crime novel by Bryan W. Conway. Based in Sandusky campground, it follows several different characters over six days where all their lives change forever.
Ex-Army, Brady, decides to live full-time in his trailer at the campground to give his marriage space to recover. Working from his temporary home gives him the flexibility to ponder where his life went so wrong. A private person, he gradually gets to know his fellow campground inhabitants, Chris and Mike, each with a sad story of their own. He also becomes aquatinted with the daily staff, especially Chuck, Patrick, Victor, and Data.
However, his instincts tell him that something isn’t right, and he discovers firsthand the sinister underbelly of what appears to be a very average campground. Together with Mike, another Army veteran, they find themselves becoming more enmeshed in the criminal activities of the staff. Will they be able to break free and save themselves or will they be sucked into the quagmire of deceit, unable to escape?
Written in the first person, each chapter follows a different character. The two main characters, Brady and Mike, share the story with stoner and alcoholic Chris, lazy Chuck, tech-savvy Data, mastermind Randy, and his bullying employee, Sam. Other characters also make appearances for varying durations. While it was confusing at first keeping track of all the characters, the author’s writing style changes enough to distinguish between them. This gives them an identity of their own, as well as a specific personality which makes them more believable as individual characters.
Based over a short span of days, I found the story was somewhat slow to get started as each character and their place in the plot was explained. However, in contrast, the end made a fast-paced and unpredictable climax where I found it difficult to put the book down .
One small negative aspect of the story was that almost every female mentioned was portrayed in a somewhat negative light. They were either described as lazy, over-protective, anxiety-ridden, or pawns in criminal activities. I’m not sure if this was intentional or was just a coincidence due to the nature of the story and setting.
I liked the setting of the campsite as it painted a very realistic picture of daily life as well as the mixing pot of people that all find themselves thrown together in such a place.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It was an exceptionally edited book and I found no errors. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and found myself getting drawn further into the story as it progressed. It would appeal to those readers who enjoy crime fiction and who are not put off by stories that switch between multiple characters. Overall, a thoroughly good read.
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