The Amazon book page describes Sins Of The Father by James Harper as a mystery suspense thriller. There is a lot of mystery and suspense to please any fan of these genres. As far as a thriller, I had mixed feelings. There are so many stories in the novel I became confused. Sins is book three of a four-part Evan Buckley Thriller Series and although James Harper fans can read it as a stand-alone novel I constantly had the feeling that there was something from previous novels that I should have known. I could tell that there were going to be some situations that would not be resolved in this novel. I am unwilling to make a time commitment to read every novel in a series in order completely understand every situation so I usually don’t read novels which are part of a series. Also, clever authors frequently make some novels in a series low-priced and trap me into paying if I want to get a complete story.
One main story involves Hugh McIntyre and Lisa Stanton. Lisa has been a bad girl with Hugh and when her husband, Kevin, found out about the affair, he killed himself. Lisa doesn’t seem particularly sorry about the suicide. She is becoming increasingly sorry as she realizes Hugh is with her for the money. She has all the money she wants or needs from daddy Frank Hanna. Gambling addict Hugh knows this and needs a lot of money to pay off Russian mobster loan sharks. Lisa doesn’t want to contribute more money. Frank hates Hugh and won’t contribute. It would be better if Frank died. Luckily for everyone except Frank, he will die of a terminal illness within one year. Before he dies, Frank wants to find an heir to his fortune other than Lisa, even if that heir is illegitimate. He knows there is such an heir but must hire Evan Buckley, P.I., to find him or her. Hugh will oppose this.
The above would be a good novel by itself. Once Frank hires Evan, another story emerges. Evan has lost his wife, Sarah. He presumes she is dead even though a body has never been found. Carl Hendricks probably killed Sarah and buried her in some underground location. Evan has lots of evidence to believe this. Evan himself was confined on Carl’s farm in an underground location. Marked for death, Evan managed to escape. This novel is unclear on those details; this is Book 3. Carl, in jail, is working through Floyd Gray, a person who haunts and oversees the Hendrick farm. His main idea is to lure Buckley to the farm and kill him after a fun time filled with torture. The lures will be a series of notes left on Evan’s cars along with mysterious text messages that hint either where Sarah lives or where her body is buried. This could also be a novel by itself and I found efforts to link these stories together resulted in characters and situations hard to follow.
Character backstories and name changes confuse things further. The search for an heir who was adopted or abducted soon after birth results in lengthy passages devoted to identification problems. Russian mobsters trying to collect money are a side story. A mysterious omniscient character (named Crow) with a foul-mouthed bird (a crow) which might be Crow’s wife jumps in and out of the story to resolve knotty issues. Floyd’s carnivorous, malevolent dog, trained to eat humans, complements Floyd, whose favorite assassin weapon is a bow and arrow. Action scenes are well described, graphic, creative, and unbelievable.
In sum, there is too much in the novel. One unifying theme, humor, offers entertainment but is still swamped by all the moving story parts. The dialogue between Evan and Detective Guillory is great. There is clever wordplay and sarcasm. The reader never knows what the actual relationship is or might develop into. Many of the dialogues are by phone and readers may wonder what Guillory is doing while on the phone with Evan. There are no sexual situations outside of reader imagined contributions. Despite liking the novel overall, I gave it only three-plus Amazon stars because I had to work too hard to figure out what was going on. Because I like the author’s writing style, I will read more James Harper novels, but only those not in a series.