2 out of 4 stars
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Guilt, written by David Taylor Black, is the first book in the Guilt series. This novel features writer Dan Harris, who has arrived in Hope Town in the Bahamas, eager to begin work on his latest book. While researching his book, Dan and the town librarian, Cat, stumble upon the body of a dead man not from the area. This forces Dan and Cat to put the research on hold and investigate a murder. After accusations and red herrings, the conclusion of Guilt will surprise any reader.
The plot of this novel is engaging and thoughtful. Black keeps the reader guessing through every turn of the page with clues as to who the killer really is. Although the plot points can be hard to follow at times, keeping the reader engaged, in combination with the well-executed imagery, makes for an overall enjoyable read. In addition, the protagonist Dan Harris is the best-developed character in the novel. Dan is a likable Everyman who is intelligent but flawed. He may consume alcohol a bit too much or let his anger get the best of him at times, but in the end he is a relatable character that the reader can root for.
Despite the engaging premise and relatable protagonist, the book has a few structural flaws that are difficult to excuse. The sentence structure and dialogue is difficult to follow if it is not read slowly and carefully. The sentence structure at the beginning of the book is sometimes choppy, but at other times run-on sentences can often be found. This seems to get better toward the end of the book, but the problem is never fully solved. The dialogue can be difficult to follow because Black often begins a new paragraph of dialogue for a single speaking character. I assume this is to emphasize a change in thought process, but it does get confusing.
In addition to the structural issues, the only character that seems to be fully realized is the protagonist. The others all seem a bit flat. Although certain characters’ motivations are explored briefly, the character development overall seems rushed. As a result, I had a hard time getting to know these characters, and therefore was never able to become emotionally invested in the story.
Overall, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. The plot was interesting, but I could not get passed the run-on sentences, choppy dialogue, and one-dimensional supporting characters. This book would appeal to lovers of murder mysteries, but this particular one was just not for me or any other stickler for sentence structure.
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