I received this novel because I nominated it through the Kindle Scout program and the book was selected (won). The preview I read prior to nominating the book was quite interesting.
Poisoned Rose by Nathalie Saade is a morally depressing book. An interesting story? Yes. Some interesting and unusual twists? Yes. Predictable? Well, yeah. We know early on that there are traitors inside a closed network of people where loyalty is everything. In a group of traitors, there has to be a supreme traitor. We get that. We know that low-level traitors or rogues will be revealed, tortured, and, if we can let them live long enough, the captive will provide clues as to the identity of the conspiracy leader. There is a romantic interest. We are pretty sure how that will work out.
There are two problems that mar the tale. First, there are no good guys. Even the females are bad guys, not a nurturing figure anywhere. The main concern of every character seems to be their first kill. All the characters obsess over how they will feel or how a beloved family member will feel subsequent to their first kill. Of course, most of the characters have made their first kill. They spend a lot of time reflecting on how their first, and subsequent, kills were just business. Hawk, one of the several central characters who has a problem keeping any shirt on, recalls that his first kill was assigned to him and he killed just for credibility, to “make his bones.” He didn’t know who he killed or why the person had to die; he was just following orders. Good luck with that in Nuremberg. Hawk is one of the “good” bad guys. He did have those few years where he avoided Aurora, the love interest. Every time he felt anxious about his feelings for Aurora, he would embark on a road trip where he would fulfill contract kills until he felt content enough to return home where he would occasionally catch glimpses of Aurora. Glimpse, travel, kill, repeat.
The second problem I saw was that all the characters, male and female, have the fighting skills of ninjas. This goes for the “good” bad guys and the “bad” bad guys. And gals. With all these skills, it’s amazing anyone dies but death happens, often. This is a novel full of action.
Hawk is handsome. Even when he does wear a shirt, enough buttons are left open to quicken the pulse of Aurora. Not intentionally, of course. This novel is full of fight scenes. People get wounded, shot, stabbed and maimed in various ways that cause a lot of the males to appear with minimum apparel, as far as shirts. This is only true of males. Females remain fully clothed. Even when Marcus, a “bad” bad guy, attempts to carve initials in the thigh of Aurora, all males chastely look away. Other characters have a lot of interest in what the initials are (they might provide a clue to the Supreme Traitor) but no one wants to look at Aurora’s thigh. Except me.
This might be called a gang novel. Five rival gangs have been cooperating for many years. Each gang family has their particular area of evil to be in charge of. There are drugs, prostitution, protection, counterfeiting, and all the usual suspects. There are organizational meetings to maintain the peace and assure profits. Everything is for the sake of business. But someone is getting greedy. It seems there is a rogue organization start-up. A few members of some of the families are joining this new organization. Trust begins to melt away among the five families. Which one of the five is allied with this new faction? Which family is supplying the manpower?
It would be very easy to compare this novel with the “Godfather” movies in that pretty much all characters are guilty of something. I watch “Godfather” part I whenever it is on TV. Same with “Godfather” part II. But this novel is more comparable with “Godfather” part III which I have never watched completely, never will attempt to watch again, and would like to have any time back I wasted on it.
Poisoned Rose is an interesting action novel. Readers who like action, here it is. It has interesting plot twists; it is worth reading for that. But for shallow characters, think “Godfather” part III.