3 out of 4 stars
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Stacked Case is an exciting crime novel written by Andy Gruse
Zachary Stack is a private investigator and co-owner of Dre-Zack Detective Agency in Baltimore. While out on a case, Zack received a text message that Darnell Whittaker is out on parole. Darnell Whittaker was only seventeen years old when he was convicted for the murder of Frank Staechel in Michigan City, Indiana. Now, sixteen years after he was locked up, Darnell is released from prison and claims he was framed.
Shortly after, Darnell’s lawyer ends up dead; Darnell, himself, is back in jail for possession of drugs; and Zack is on his way to Indiana to help clear Darnell’s name. However, it seems like someone is determined to keep Darnell locked up.
With a fast pacing and told in the third person perspective, this book is an exciting and suspenseful story about secret identity, corruption, discrimination, frame up and an old conspiracy. The mystery begins very early in the book and the plot thickens as the story goes, making the book difficult to put down. By giving the readers some obvious hints, the author makes them feel they are the ones gradually unraveling the mystery as they read along. With the main plot already established, a subplot is randomly inserted which serves to heighten the suspense of the main plot.
The setting, particularly Michigan City, Indiana, is vividly described while various scenes like fighting, confrontation and escape, are thoroughly depicted. Dialogues are engaging especially between Zack and Darnell and between Zach and Andre. The occasional street slang makes the conversations even more fascinating.
The secondary characters, each given short but enough backstories, are well-developed and easily relatable especially Julie, the loving girlfriend, and Michelle, the concerned friend and colleague. My favorite, however, is Darnell because he turns out not as jaded as he should be after being locked up for a crime he did not commit. I also find his banters with Zack amusing and sometimes downright funny.
However, I think the climax came too early in the story while the ending felt incomplete and was not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. I also noticed several errors (as he to split his time, your welcome and you’re business card among others) within the entire book. Moreover, though I did not mind much, other readers may find the frequent use of sentence fragments, probably for emphasis, distracting. Furthermore, I found the main protagonist’s character the most difficult to relate with. It seems he was focused on helping Darnell out of guilt. His feelings for his family and the skills he learned from the Marine Corps were not very much elaborated.
All in all, this is an interesting, exciting and suspenseful crime novel and despite the errors, I find it an enjoyable read. It shows how far a man is willing to go and what he is willing to do to make amends and do what he thinks is right no matter how late it seems. I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to fans of crime and conspiracy novels.
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