4 out of 4 stars
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Lynn-Steven Johansan does a terrific job of building a realistic detective story with his Corrupted Souls. The novel follows protagonists Joe and Sam as they investigate the murder of graduate student Daniel Silverman. The crime appears to be motivated by hate, as Daniel was found shot to death with a swastika carved into his back; it is important to note that Daniel is Jewish. The investigation takes readers on an interesting journey full of surprises as the two not only uncover criminal plots but also become targets of the perpetrators. Johansan has created a book that accurately simulates a murder investigation in a gripping format that will hook audiences from the first page.
The book does many things well. The writing is superb, and I found very few errors in the book. It is also captivating, as chapters build intrigue with every new development in the Silverman case. The occasional big revelation makes the reader feel as if they are unraveling the mystery of the crime right alongside Joe and Sam, which is an incredibly satisfying feeling. The plot is additionally impossible to predict. Early on, I had a hunch as to who could be behind the death of Daniel Silverman. This hunch was proven wrong as more information provided leads that I would never have guessed, culminating in a reveal at the end of the book that left me utterly surprised.
It is hard to identify shortcomings of the narrative. If I had to nitpick, I would say that the motivations for Daniel’s killer are a little underwhelming. Leads throughout the book insinuate that the murder is personal, and readers are kept on the edge of their seat trying to make the connections of who did it. When the killer is finally revealed, the ties to Daniel seem tenuous at best, and readers may feel robbed of the pieces coming together in a satisfying manner. However, the narrative itself is tight. I did not see any plot holes, and the story beats all make sense. Therefore, I do not have any major critiques of the work.
I would recommend this book to any lovers of the crime genre. The book reads just like an episode from a procedural like Law and Order, and in my opinion, this makes the book feel very digestible. If you like to binge such shows, this book may be for you. There are some graphic elements in the plot that some readers may find disturbing. Profanity and sexual content are present in the work, so discretion is advised. The story is definitely intended for a mature audience. Nevertheless, if this type of content appeals to you, you are in for a treat.
Overall, I give Corrupted Souls 4 out of 4 stars. When I get the hankering to read a crime drama, this is exactly the type of story I am interested in. It has twists that feel believable, which I greatly prefer over a more artificial narrative. The book does an excellent job of creating drama. I look forward to checking out other books by this author.
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