I got sidetracked in my reading and posting by an invitation from an author to review a crime novel. I like crime novels, so other reading projects got put on hold while I read Need To Find You by Joseph Souza. Following is a review I posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and Library Thing.
This can be an exhausting story to follow because of the great number of characters. Somewhere in the review I mentioned this, but it is a point worth repeating. I found a highlighter helpful.
The content is not suitable for all readers. Other than the violence, portrayals of pedophiles can be disturbing. There is very little sexually explicit language.
Characters in this novel are flawed. All of them. In most crime novels I have read there are a few normal characters, maybe a newspaper delivery person or an occasional one-time appearance taxi driver. Not in this novel. Everyone has some dark past or secret. That just multiplies the mysteries that we discover and makes for interesting reading. But with so many damaged characters I almost consider this fantasy as much as mystery.
A unifying theme is the author Robert Cornish. He wrote something great which became a staple of required academic reading in universities and high schools. But he is dead and his personal papers are archived and held in a guarded vault. His heir, son Richard, will not allow them to be published. Grad student Mikiela has managed to bribe her way into the vault and, using her hand phone, takes pictures of some incriminating documents. She intends to expose the real Cornish both with discovered content and through a literary criticism method, deconstructionism.
Sounds pretty innocent up to now, but Mikiela does not make it past the first chapter without being chased by mysterious biker like strangers. Prior to being caught, she throws the phone to Yasmine, a seriously flawed Goth type who plays in an underground band and works as a volunteer at a home for abused girls. She is trying to make up for an earlier life of abuse. The abuse was at the hands of confederates of the biker types that were chasing Mikiela.
She can’t go to the police because the assistant chief happens to be one of those who abused Yasmine many years ago when she was still a teen. And the chief recognizes her; she, on the other hand, recognizes the chief. Somebody has to die here. The reader can only guess who will die because although the chief has a gun, Yasmine is a mixed martial arts champion. But the chief also has the advantage of being able to use some of the biker bad guys, all of whom work for a supreme bad guy, Vine. No one has ever seen Vine’s face. All are terrified by (presumably) him because of a tendency to arbitrarily kill his own followers as a disciplinary measure.
Somewhere there has to be a love interest. Whip (now there is a name for a recovering alcoholic cop) returns to town after a year in rehab. He was only a few days short of completing his program, so he celebrates with a few beers. He is living at home with his father who is grieving over a recently deceased wife (Whip’s mother). Dad tells Whip that Rachael, Whip’s girlfriend, is engaged to another man. Lots of introspection on Whip’s part while consuming lots of alcohol. Of course he goes to see Rachel who, while yet unmarried, is caring for her almost one-year-old infant son. That this seems to match Whip’s time in rehab does not register with Whip; he is not even curious enough to ask about the child’s father. But Rachel knows.
Then there is Kell, think hitman. He has a set of horns which is a bit weird and a lack of male genitals which he has lost incrementally. His latest loss, a penis, was taken by Yasmine and Kell is pretty happy it is gone. Kell is a hitman for Vine, but he would kill for fun even without an employer. One of his victims, Mandy, is fairly pleased to be killed by Kell because she had always wondered what death would be like. She had tried suicide twice before and had been told by doctors it was a cry for attention. Kell paid attention. Bodies abound. Who could be more innocent than a museum curator? Nope, she gets killed too. Kell is nothing if not busy.
And there are corrupt cops. The most serious one is Haskins; there are others who are his followers. And there are honest cops, so we have that tension going on.
This novel is a complete meal, nothing has been left out. Readers might think they have figured out who the mysterious character Vine is in real life. I thought it was fairly apparent. I was completely wrong. Not only did I pick the wrong identity, I had no clue as to the motive.
This novel is well worth reading. Readers who cannot deal with a lot (really, a lot) of characters might want to carry a highlighter around while reading this one; it is easy to get lost.