Official Review: Prey to the Lord by Frank Catanzano

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MsTri
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Official Review: Prey to the Lord by Frank Catanzano

Post by MsTri » 10 Jun 2018, 13:18

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Prey to the Lord" by Frank Catanzano.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Isn't it funny the difference one little letter can make? Take, for instance, "pray to the Lord" versus Prey to the Lord. Written by Frank Catanzano, the latter is a Detective John Bello crime mystery novel wherein a religious fanatic is systematically killing off those who sexually abuse children. The idea of a serial killer dispensing with the lowest of the low, those who molest the young, immediately caught my attention, and I'm glad I read this book. With that being said, I think calling the book "Prey FOR the Lord" may have made a bit more sense.

As members of Empowering Children, an organization that was ostensibly created to "help disadvantaged kids get a head start in life through special family and consumer education", the perverts think that they are safe from those who would frown on their activities. But now there is a killer who is doing quite a bit more than just frowning. Fortunately - but is it really? - Detective Bello and his partner, Detective Schmidt, are on the case. With each successive murder being more gruesome than the last, can the team catch the supposed tool of God before he completes his mission?

With this kind of plot, one expects equal doses of suspense and action, and that is what one gets in this tome. The tale moves at a decent clip, ramping up the action until the finale. The ending in particular had me on the edge of my seat, cringing with every move. I will also say that up until the midway point, I had several guesses as to who the killer could be, but at 45% of the book (according to my Kindle), I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt who the culprit was. I'm not saying it was obvious, as I had to go to an earlier part of the novel to double-check my thinking, but if the reader really pays attention, they can figure it out. Even so, it didn't take away from the latter 55% because I still had to experience the Detectives catching on and going after him.

As great as the plot itself was, the character-building could have been better. The killer "heard" from God and therefore thought he was doing the Creator's will, so that was interesting, but it sometimes seemed to be a bit overdone. Later in the book, though, once the killer was revealed, his backstory was filled-in, thereby fleshing him out better. I still would like to have known a bit more about his hearing from God, but the author never clarified whether the murderer was schizophrenic or what exactly. For his part, Detective Bello also had an interesting characteristic. Due to an injury suffered in Vietnam, he gained ‘Acquired Savant Syndrome', which allowed him to hold a relevant object and partially see an event as it happened. Obviously, that ability came in quite handy in solving the case. Still, aside from knowing that the Detective had that capability and that he was a heavy womanizer, I knew very little about him. His family history was mentioned some, but not enough to make him a fully three-dimensional character. Since this is seemingly the first in a series of books, I'm hopeful that the author will delve more into the man that is Detective Bello in later novels. I also missed the camaraderie that is common in these sort of books. With such heavy cases, I like reading about detectives and cops joking around, thereby letting off some steam. I'm not saying that they didn't get along, but that sense of brotherhood could have been illustrated more. As a result, I had trouble really rooting for anyone; even though the killer shouldn't have been taking justice into his own hands, I also certainly couldn't root for the "victims" or even feel really bad for them. This left me with the authorities, and while I did want them to win, I didn't feel as invested as I could have.

Even though I felt that the character writing could have been better, I thought the author's storytelling itself was pretty good. It was straightforward, telling the tale in the factual way that one does but with wonderful doses of flourish. I particularly liked "If Russo told you it was Christmas, you could go hang up your stocking", which was said about a particularly honest Detective. "And when the media coverage appears, your ‘good standing’ will have gotten up and left" is another line that had me in gales of laughter. Additionally, the killer had a penchant for puns, which made me groan with delight a few times.

Unfortunately, as great as the wording is, the grammar itself needs a lot of work. In his Acknowledgements, Mr. Catanzano thanked someone for "her editing skills". I suggest that he go back and hire an actual professional, as there was at least one error per page. The worst mistake by far was quotation mark usage; sometimes the end quote mark was missing, and at other times the marks were there minus any speech. Other missteps included missing words, incorrect word usage, punctuation mishaps, and misspellings. Even though it's not a requirement, it also bothered me that the author didn't italicize the characters' thoughts. Finally, because he was keeping the killer's identity a secret, there were a lot of instances of missing identifiers when referring to different characters; in these cases, the author could have added clarity to the writing by referring to the culprit as "the murderer", "the killer", "the madman", etc. One such passage reads as follows:
“You must confess to the horrible transgressions you have made! The Lord is watching you and the abominations you have committed!” He began to elevate his voice as anger overtook him. He suddenly and violently thrust the ice pick through the mesh, directly into Monroe’s eye socket. He emitted a low grunt as he fell to the floor, his brain functions ceasing within a fraction of a second."

With all things considered, I have to give Prey to the Lord: A Detective John Bello Novel 3 out of 4 stars. If we could give half stars, I would have went with 2.5, but I decided to round up since the characterizations don't warrant the loss of a whole star. If it's not already obvious, this novel has a lot of graphic content, so it's not for the faint of heart. I also wouldn't recommend it to those who can't stand reading about a character misrepresenting God's words. I do think that fans of crime mysteries and authorities with an interesting ability would enjoy this tome. Finally, if you're a reader who likes the idea of child molesters getting their just desserts in a gory fashion, I pray that this novel does it for you.

******
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Post by SamSim » 12 Jun 2018, 07:56

Bello sounds like an intriguing character and I love puns, but I think the "graphic content" is going to keep me away from this one. The intensity, tone, and the fact that the murderer believe's he's doing God's will reminded me of The Bride Collector, by Ted Dekker, which, to me, was intense to read, but worth it. Another great review!
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Post by crediblereading2 » 12 Jun 2018, 09:43

Thank you for your very detailed review. I love the plot of this story. I too wish that the author would have revealed more about 'this voice that the killer heard from God.' I would rather think that he was schizophrenic.

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Post by MsTri » 12 Jun 2018, 11:11

SamSim wrote:
12 Jun 2018, 07:56
Bello sounds like an intriguing character and I love puns, but I think the "graphic content" is going to keep me away from this one. The intensity, tone, and the fact that the murderer believe's he's doing God's will reminded me of The Bride Collector, by Ted Dekker, which, to me, was intense to read, but worth it. Another great review!
Thanks for the comment and mention of the book; just the name is intriguing, so I'll definitely look it up!

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Post by MsTri » 12 Jun 2018, 11:13

crediblereading2 wrote:
12 Jun 2018, 09:43
Thank you for your very detailed review. I love the plot of this story. I too wish that the author would have revealed more about 'this voice that the killer heard from God.' I would rather think that he was schizophrenic.
I agree and that's what I think, too, but there may be other mental defects that would cause this, so I would have liked more clarity.

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Post by Petertember » 12 Jun 2018, 11:22

The review is good and well detailed.The story is touching and i wish that the author could have reviled the voice.Bravo

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Post by Ever_Reading » 12 Jun 2018, 12:45

MsTri wrote:
10 Jun 2018, 13:18
I also wouldn't recommend it to those who can't stand reading about a character misrepresenting God's words.
That would be me. Also, the book sounds a little too graphic for my liking so I shall steer clear of this one. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review, mate. Thank you!
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Post by Helen_Combe » 13 Jun 2018, 01:49

Great review and you’ve improved the book title too. It sounds a bit too dark for me and I like a character that I can root for, but they looked a bit thin on the ground.
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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 13 Jun 2018, 05:28

The title gave me a different impression compared to the review. Not in my dreams did I think it was a detective read. I saw it as pray not prey, words have a lot impact in books. Pray to the lord made me think it was another religious read, but it is more than that. Thank you for sharing your review!
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Post by BriennaiJ » 13 Jun 2018, 15:58

I am always sad when the character development in a story just fall short. Great review!

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Post by Dael Reader » 13 Jun 2018, 19:42

It sounds interesting. I'm a sucker for witty dialogue--and it sound like the punning characters would draw me in. But you do mention that the overall character building is lacking, and character development is something I really need in stories. I might give a pass on this one. But I enjoyed your review.

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Post by SABRADLEY » 13 Jun 2018, 21:31

You bring up some really good points about the things a reader expects to get from a book like this; pertinent backstory, detective camaraderie, and someone to truly root for. The plot certainly sounds interesting, though. And nice title improvement! Thanks for a great review

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Post by Kemunto lucy » 14 Jun 2018, 04:46

The book title caught my eye and after reading your review I guess I will read the book. Thanks for the review.

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Post by Nimat87 » 14 Jun 2018, 13:38

The plot of this book reminds me of the movie 'Reasonable doubt' where the serial killer murders recently paroled convicts because he believes they would repeat their crimes. Books that address issues like this pique my interest in human psychology and the reason behind brutal crimes. Thanks for an interesting review.
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Post by Dolor » 14 Jun 2018, 17:04

A religious fanatic systematically killing off those who sexually abuse children may what we want but it's God to judge and take the life of His creatures. I do feel sorry for the children who became victims but I believe the Owner of life has the right to take it. So heartbreaking to hear about this issue. Your review made me decide that this book is not someone I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the thorough review.

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