2 out of 4 stars
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Sex, Murder, Betrayal by Frederick Bruce centers around David Wilson. David is a self-starter who built his business consulting company on a strong foundation of training, networking, and good old-fashioned hitting the pavement. He fostered amiable working relationships with many business owners and word traveled about his expertise. One fateful day, he cold-called on the office of Premier Equipment and met the owner and, more importantly, the owner’s much younger wife, Carole Benson.
David and Carole quickly find themselves in a relationship that has nothing to do with ledgers and accounts receivable. As David finds himself obsessing over Carole, her husband is found murdered in his office while Carole is out of town. All fingers are pointing to David as the murderer and he must work to prove his innocence to the detectives on the case.
Frederick Bruce weaves a tale that keeps you guessing throughout his short novel. The first chapter is Carole’s call to the police that leads to the discovery of her dead husband, so the reader is constantly anticipating the murder as the book jumps back in time prior to the crime. Bruce brings the reader along as the detectives investigate, a court case is built, and a verdict is handed down. The lack of predictability keeps the book interesting. While affairs and murder are the cornerstones of this novel, there is no gory or sexually explicit content.
Bruce’s writing style reads like the beginning of Dragnet; everything plainly stated, yet served with an overabundance of detail. The opening of David’s business, his living situation, and his dealings with other businesses that have no real bearing on the storyline are all presented in boringly, repetitive detail. I never felt connected to the characters or really invested in their story. The dialogue was perfunctory and not terribly compelling. It is obvious that the novel was not professionally edited. I found grammar, punctuation, or formatting errors on approximately half of the pages in the 165-page book. There were also inconstancies regarding tense and time frames. At one point, Carolyn starts being used instead of Carole as the story is told from the point of view of the detectives working the case. Unfortunately, the author slips up and starts using Carole interchangeably, ruining the effect of the detectives using her formal name.
As I read this book in its entirety during a three-hour flight, I found myself disturbing my seatmates as I would subconsciously begin shaking my head at errors and problems I found in the novel. As this was a reimbursed paperback purchase, I found myself quite disappointed that a book with so many glaring issues is being offered on the market. A rating of 2 out of 4 stars is more than generous for this novel. The only thing keeping me from rating it lower is that the story was somewhat compelling and kept me guessing until the end. If you prefer your mysteries dry and quick, you might enjoy this book.
Sex, Murder, Betrayal
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