2 out of 4 stars
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I chose to review Gangster’s Revenge by D.G. Varner because it promised to be a story of action and, well, revenge. While there are elements of both in the main story, the introduction is lengthy and unwieldy, with characters that pop up and then disappear like whack-a-moles. The leading characters are mostly undeveloped, and many pieces of the plotline rely on coincidences. With so many aspects of the book being rather shallow, I simply didn’t enjoy reading it. The author suggests these are “tales,” and I agree that is the best way to categorize them. I can see both the introductory story and the main story being told around a campfire or on a front porch. And there, they would be delightful. However, they are a little too thin for consideration as a novel.
The story begins with the narrator, Dan, suffering through an unbelievably bad day. Among other things, he experiences vehicle disasters and physical losses. Over the next few days, Dan encounters many odd coincidences and devastating blows. Ultimately, he lands in a quiet place with Gramps, who spins a tale about John Dillinger, the gangster referred to in the title. The Dillinger story is the main story in the book now being narrated by Gramps. In it, the plot cycle resets with more disasters, flukes, and destruction.
As I said earlier, the characters are not well-developed, and neither are the settings. Additionally, readers are expected to accept an exceptionally significant suspension of disbelief. There are frequently both miraculous survivals and coincidental meetings, and characters accept them and move forward. As a reader, I found this very difficult to embrace in a story based on real people in a realistic setting.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I am taking one star because of the issues with plot and characterization. While the premise of the plot was solid, the implementation needed more follow-through. The author’s relationship between writer and storyteller has a lot of promise as a story framework. Unfortunately, though, I was intrigued by neither the plot nor the characters. I am taking the other star because this book was not professionally edited. I found the first ten errors in the first 20 pages. Most of these errors involved missing commas, apostrophes, and even periods. These types of mistakes carried throughout the book, and sometimes even words were missing.
I did like that there was no profanity, sex, or gore in this book. There is violence, but it is not described in detail. Do I recommend Gangster’s Revenge? Not really. However, “clean” reads are hard to find. People seeking a book with no adult themes might be willing to overlook the simplicity of the story in order to have something to read.
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