Official Review: Once Upon A Time In LA, A Criminal Ballet

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any crime, thriller, mystery or horror books or series.
Forum rules
You must limit each topic thread in this section to only one book or only one series. Make the title of the topic the name of the book, and if possible also include the author's name. If you want to allow spoilers, you must include the word spoilers in the title of the topic, otherwise spoilers are prohibited.
Post Reply
Posts: 226
Joined: 04 Sep 2015, 03:50
Favorite Author: Stephen King
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 500
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Holy Crap ... We're On Fire! by Co authors: Paul Miller and Diane Vetter
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU
Publishing Contest Votes: 2
fav_author_id: 2376
Location: South Africa

Official Review: Once Upon A Time In LA, A Criminal Ballet

Post by Jax14 » 27 Jan 2018, 04:47

[Following is an official review of "Once Upon A Time In LA, A Criminal Ballet" by Ceasar Nickson.]
Book Cover
1 out of 4 stars
Share This Review

Once Upon a Crime in LA – A Criminal Ballet by Ceasar Demetrius Nickson is, according to the author, a true American crime story, and written in a movie script style.

The story tells the tale of two jewel thieves named K-Nine and Eyez who, with the help of female crew members, pull off 17 robberies where they steal over 300 million dollars’ worth of jewellery. The reader is told how K-Nine got the idea, how his crew joined him and what the repercussions of the heists were.

The author touted this book as “an Urban Masterpiece” so I was genuinely looking forward to reading it. The claim that it was based on a true story intrigued me, so I did a little research on the subject and found that the author did indeed get convicted of robbery, use of a firearm in a crime of violence and interstate transportation of stolen property. I started reading and quickly found the script style difficult to read at times, as often the person’s name who was about to say something would be at the bottom of the page, while their speech would be on the next page. There is a lot of swearing and some colloquial expressions (which some might find offensive) scattered throughout, so potential readers would need to take this into consideration. A lot of spelling mistakes cropped up which, in the beginning, I thought were there to emphasise pronunciation like are for or, or studda for stutter. When there and their were mixed up and too and to were interchanged I thought maybe they were simple grammar mistakes. Then along came apostrophes inserted for no reason, capitals in the middle of sentences and spelling like braclets (bracelets), neckless’s (necklaces) and conceiled (concealed). The tone that the author uses is very upbeat and on an average page of 10 lines of speech, about 7 of them end in an exclamation mark, 2 with a question mark and the others with a full stop. I found that this made it quite difficult to “come down” in your head while reading. Here is a typical page in the book (taken directly from page 76):

I feel you my nig!
And know this! All yawl, I got you backs! (Sing-a-long)
And, We got your’s!
What time is it!
Tear down the door’s!

Ain’t no future in yo front’n!
Never was Cuz!
Never was Blood!
Ain’t no future in yo front’n! (Laughs all around)
Saw something down in Miami! Large!
Sound’s good to me! When?
Next week or so!

I expected a lot more from the story itself and I’m still confused as to why it is referred to as a criminal ballet. I wondered if it was a reference to a dance between the police and thieves, but since the police are only mentioned much later that didn’t make sense. In the beginning K-Nine gets the idea to rob a jewellery store and takes Eyez with him. They go in, threaten the salesperson, take diamonds and watches, and leave. Maria, who lives in the same apartment block as K-Nine, hears about his haul and asks to join in the next heist. He agrees and they rob the next place in the same way. The next girl asks to join, he agrees and they do the same thing. And so on and so on. Each time it’s a different combination of girls, but it’s always a case of them threatening the salesperson with a gun and then taking the diamonds and watches. There is a small part explaining what K-Nine buys with the stash and how the money he throws around in clubs gets him “respect”. He also focusses briefly on how all the girls in the crew (whether gay or not), fall in love with him and want to marry him. Eventually the law does catch up with him, a crew member starts snitching and he goes to jail and does time for some of the robberies. The only real “aha” moment is when you find out what happened to the rest of the loot.

I struggled with this story as I can’t really say I enjoyed it. I cannot condone the story itself, and the script style made reading very difficult and influenced my rating a lot. The repetition of scenes in the story, for example the girls that just kept cropping up to join the crew and the way the robberies kept happening, as well the grammatical errors, made me remove 2 stars immediately. The third star was influenced by the lack of description, as in a script you are presented with speech and the action will happen around it on screen. This script was put forward as a book to be reviewed, so there are lots of blanks as to what the characters are actually doing, how they are moving, what they and the landscape look like and there is not enough substance to flesh it out. I thus rate Once Upon a Time in LA – A Criminal Ballet 1 out of 4 stars as I am unable to endorse this in its current format, but reiterate that it is merely my opinion. The book has received 5-star reviews on major sites so any potential reader has a number of different reviews to base their decisions on.

Once Upon A Time In LA, A Criminal Ballet
View: on Bookshelves | on Barnes and Noble

Like Jax14's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 4965
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2018 Reading Goal: 115
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Currently Reading: End of the Last Great Kingdom
Bookshelf Size: 186
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: NanoMorphosis by Marla L. Anderson

Post by kandscreeley » 02 Feb 2018, 09:43

Wow! This one seems quite confusing and overwhelming. I'm sorry you had to struggle through this one. I applaud your perseverance. Thanks for the review. It's definitely NOT for me!
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

User avatar
Posts: 1
Joined: 02 Feb 2018, 13:33
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by Honzo65 » 02 Feb 2018, 13:37

This did seem quite perplexed and baffling, however, very good effort. Thanks for the review but I do have picky criticm so this might not be for me but could potentially be for others!

User avatar
Posts: 3
Joined: 02 Feb 2018, 14:29
Bookshelf Size: 2

Post by aisian » 02 Feb 2018, 14:37

a true crime of passion from my point of view with ending song of the jazzy rappy music that describe the way the robber criminal incidential loved
a woman and wanted to give her the best through a passion of crime which was robbery but murder wasn't the crime. :tiphat:

User avatar
Posts: 1
Joined: 03 Feb 2018, 18:30
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by VictorI49 » 03 Feb 2018, 19:06

hmm..,Quiet an interesting story thanks for the review, but unfortunately i have a little bit distaste for crime stories, and definetly NOT a fan

User avatar
Posts: 1
Joined: 03 Feb 2018, 21:56
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by deannastargirl » 04 Feb 2018, 02:59

looks like a difficult storyline to follows.. not for me too.

User avatar
Posts: 87
Joined: 14 Jan 2018, 14:41
Currently Reading: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Bookshelf Size: 10
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: The Reel Sisters by Michelle Cummings

Post by Kieran_Obrien » 04 Feb 2018, 17:32

We all know the TRUE crime here is bad grammar.

User avatar
Posts: 373
Joined: 03 Mar 2015, 03:13
2018 Reading Goal: 52
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 13
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 128
Favorite Book: The Prince of Tides
Currently Reading: Red Rising
Bookshelf Size: 151
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: "The Reel Sisters" by Michelle Cummings

Post by ashley_claire » 06 Feb 2018, 10:01

Great job on the thorough review. One-star reviews can be difficult to write but it sounds like you did the book justice. Trying to discern which words are misspelled for the sake of pronunciation and which words are just plain misspelled sounds like a nightmare and this book is definitely not for me.

User avatar
Posts: 2
Joined: 07 Feb 2018, 16:43
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 3

Post by Shivon » 08 Feb 2018, 17:43

Boring,at first it seemed kind of exciting but then the grammar and the cursing,it just became so complicated and tiresome :hand:

User avatar
Posts: 1
Joined: 09 Feb 2018, 15:38
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by Eisman227 » 09 Feb 2018, 15:52

Not for me too.Very boring and really hard to follow up and understand.Unfortunately im not a fan of crime stories

User avatar
Posts: 2
Joined: 06 Feb 2018, 21:37
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 2

Post by reviewerblood » 10 Feb 2018, 20:24

:evil: o.o i didnt enjoy... a fan of these type of books but it was just horrible

User avatar
Posts: 298
Joined: 21 Jan 2017, 18:30
Currently Reading: Oil and Marble
Bookshelf Size: 200
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Ocean Echoes by Sheila Hurst
Location: Bloemfontein, South Africa

Post by Lest92 » 15 Feb 2018, 06:10

Oh dear, it's one of those. Sorry you had to struggle through this one.

Posts: 112
Joined: 18 Jul 2017, 11:46
2018 Reading Goal: 52
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 92
Currently Reading: Devilish
Bookshelf Size: 291
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Murder in Memory by Mike Thorne
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU
Location: Ghana, Africa

Post by Fati-bola » 20 Feb 2018, 03:10

A book with so many errors and poor editing is always a put-off for me. That anyone will give a 5 stars rating is not fair at all on the author. An honest review like this one is to instigate necessary correction and a rewrite. I won't hurt my sensibility by reading this. I pass. Thanks for this honest review.

User avatar
Posts: 239
Joined: 11 Feb 2018, 10:31
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 76
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 74
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Napalm's Embrace by W. Thomas Leonard
Location: Oregon

Post by DancingLady » 20 Feb 2018, 08:28

Thanks for being honest. I’m a ballet dancer and was automatically attracted to the title when I saw this post. I agree that movie script style is not a good format at all. I have tried to read bits and pieces of scrips in the past and found it requires a certain skill to learn to follow it with any ease. It’s too bad the author hasn’t made connections with a good editor that could help him learn how to present his story in a more reader friendly style and tidy up the errors.

User avatar
Posts: 198
Joined: 03 Feb 2018, 15:12
2018 Reading Goal: 560
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 1
Currently Reading: Big Doc Bitteroot
Bookshelf Size: 19
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Serendipity Mystery by R.F. Kristi
Location: The Caribbean

Post by prettysmart » 03 Mar 2018, 16:12

The plot seemed so disappointed but great review!

Post Reply

Return to “Crime, Thrillers, Mystery and Horror Books”