ADMIN NOTE: This is a partial review of one portion of a “Duology.” My comments are subject to updates as I find more information. Konrath is an excellent writer who on occasion, likes to play with readers. Genesis is an example of one of those occasions. The novel can be read as entertainment or as the invitation to a game and discussion. This review will focus on one pass, one-time examination of the story as entertainment. True, the story ends in a cliffhanger, but Konrath provides a warning of such an “ending.”
Genesis by J. A. Konrath is Book One in a series titled “What Happened to Lori.” Konrath gives the book a tongue-twisting description; the author calls his latest work a “Mind-Blowing Twist Thriller Duology,” confirming for me there is more originality to come. The description is one I have never read. J. A. Konrath is one of my Go-To Writers, meaning I read everything I stumble across by him in notifications or browsing. I haven’t read everything he has written. If I do so, it will be by accident. He has written too many books for me to keep up. I could make his stories a reader project. The problem is his creations can be intense, and I don’t want to suffer reader burn-out. I would rather enjoy his books as I encounter them.
Readers might want to note that Konrath has an actionable offer attached to this novel. In an author email, he has offered Book Two of the series free if a reader posts a review of Genesis to a social media site by July 31. Readers who post should forward the link to Konrath, and he will make Book Two free.
In Konrath’s words, here is a challenge which I INTEND to meet. I am not sure I will be able to figure out what happened to Lori before July 31. I may give up on the answer and only post a review by the end of July to get a free Book Two. In Author Note 2, before the story begins, Konrath writes:
“Book 2, the conclusion, will be available very soon. But if you read closely, pay attention to details, and you’re really, really smart, you could figure out what happened to Lori before Book 2 is released. There are hints, clues, and even some cleverly concealed spoilers. It won’t be easy. You might even become impatient. Frustrated. Enraged. Remember… it’s only a story… Remember to post a spoiler warning before you share your theories. And make sure you’re correct. Because you’re probably wrong.” (Kindle locations 39-48).
Author Note One refers to a diple. It is good to know how Konrath uses the diple to understand the structure of the story as far as character contributions to thought and dialogue. The knowledge gained is one of many fun facts which could make you feel superior at gatherings of self-important novice writers.
Konrath’s advice to those presuming to know about the fate of Lori is to be careful because we (readers) are probably wrong. That presumption makes Genesis an activity book as well as enjoyable entertainment. I may have to read Genesis more than once. I must find a way to get into the mind of Konrath. There is a training program available. The author has written a series of Mystery Puzzle Books. The mystery is presented in a set containing five novels: How, Why, Who Where, and When. Stop a Murder—Answer Book is Book 6 in the series. Mystery novels sell for USD 0.99 on Amazon but are also available at no cost on Kindle Unlimited. The Answer Book is not available on Kindle Unlimited and sells for USD 2.99.
I have only read one of the Puzzle Books (awe-inspiring – five stars!) and I could not resist buying the Answer Book. I intend to complete the other Puzzle Books before venturing a guess about Lori’s fate. There is something to be said for knowing the mind of an opponent. I won’t find clues about Lori in the Puzzle Books, but I will gain an insight into the author’s head.
There are not a lot of characters in Genesis. I like the name Grim, even though it is really Pilgrim. Grim is Lori’s brother and wants to know what happened to her. Daily alcohol intake has slowed Grim’s efforts and raced through his savings. There are many ways to measure how far down the survival index an alcoholic can go. When butter (it may have been margarine) becomes a primary food source, the bottom of the index is not far away.
Readers will focus mainly on Fabler, Lori’s husband. Fabler and Grim were probably friends in an earlier life. They were close as highly skilled military Special Operators in Iraq. Going on death-defying missions where each of the pair was responsible for the other’s back tended to tighten the bonds of friendship to a higher degree. Even during those operations, there were signs of developing stress between the two. After the end of obligatory military service, the two dabbled in mercenary ventures. Lori’s disappearance broke the bond between the two. Pilgrim testified against Fabler in a trial that sent Fabler to prison for two years. How did Fabler get out after two years? The answer is revealed early in the novel, but the answer to the question is not the central mystery.
Was Fabler guilty of murdering Lori? Did Pilgrim frame Fabler for Lori’s Murder/disappearance? Next up, the mystery of Marna Presley. Readers should accept the name; it might be wrong, but for this novel, Presley is good enough. Marna is the female equivalent of Pilgrim and Fabler; she also has combat experience and unusual skill sets. Fabler is up to something after his release from prison. Whatever Fabler is up to, he needs an assistant, so he places an ad on Craigslist. Pilgrim learns of this need and decides to monitor Fabler very closely. Think hidden cameras, illegal surveillance stuff, and all the good things ex-mercenaries seem to be qualified to acquire and use.
Fabler hires Marna and begins a training program like few I have heard about. The program, the dialogue (and diples) between the two drive my interest in this novel. Fabler doesn’t know that Marna is getting two salaries. Pilgrim is the person who steered Marna to Fabler; Marna makes periodic reports to Pilgrim. Marna has her separate agenda, one which is another mystery for the reader to juggle.
The book examines PTSD, how could it not? Pilgrim suffers from the disease and has turned to alcoholism, a substitute disease. Fabler suffers from the disease and has an interesting way of attempting to cope. It is not music, but it does involve some audio files. Marna has PTSD. After all, she was also in combat, but PTSD is not central to her mystery. The Watcher is undoubtedly a Wacko, but readers don’t know who she/he/it might be. The would-be assassins of Presley may not have PTSD; they like killing for killing’s sake. With such a broad concentration of non-normal people affected in different ways by PTSD and other mental aberrations, readers are adrift as they look for any reliable information.
Welcome to the Konrath world. This novel is a five-star Amazon read on the surface alone. Readers who start scratching below surfaces will find more fun. I highly recommend this novel as an excellent read and, on another level, a possible activity book. What Happened to Lori, Book 1, Genesis, is available as a free purchas on Amazon.
Off to my voluntary training program.