Book Review: Symphony of Blood by Adam Pepper
Hank Mondale wanted to be a cop but his gambling, alcohol, and drug addictions ruined his record. Instead, he is now a private detective barely scraping by, so when a wealthy and famous man named Blake hires him to figure out where the monster pursuing his daughter is hiding out, he takes the case in spite of the odd sound of it. Particularly since Blake and his daughter insist that this is a literal, shape-changing, lizard-like monster after her.
This is a book that suffers from bad structure, a plethora of unlikable characters, and a serious lack of editing.
I don’t need to go into too much detail about the lack of editing. Suffice to say it’s a combination of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. For instance, Jaeger is spelled “Yager” at one point (when being spoken about by an alcoholic character, no less). Also, although most of the book is told in past tense, periodically present tense shows up. Similarly, other errors show up that simply jar the reader, such as calling a character “rippled,” when the author meant “ripped.”
These are all editing problems, though, so I always try to look beyond them to see if they were fixed, would the story be a quality one? Alas, the case in this instance is simply no. The first half of the book is told entirely from the detective’s point of view, only to abruptly switch and have the next 25% or so back-track and tell what occurred from the monster’s perspective. Then the last bit of the book reverts back to the detective’s perspective. This gives the book an incredibly odd structure and simultaneously removes most of the mystery and suspense. Where before the creature was an enigma, we now understand it intimately. Similarly, whereas the section told from the creature’s point of view could be an interesting story in its own right, it is instead smushed between two ho-hum detective sections. Either choose to be investigating the monster or be the monster or alternate more quickly between the two to maintain some mystery. This structure simply feels like two different books willy-nilly slammed together.
There’s also the problem of the characters. The only sympathetic one is the monster, which would work if the story was told entirely from the monster’s perspective, yet it is not. Plus the monster itself just doesn’t make much sense. It’s hard to picture or imagine how it operates. It seems the author used the excuse of it being a monster to let it bend all rules whenever it was convenient to the storyline. Beyond the monster, the detective, his friends, Blake, and the daughter are all completely unsympathetic. They are the kind of people you’d move away from on the subway or roll your eyes at behind their backs. Readers, particularly in a mystery, need at least one character they can relate to.
All that said, Pepper does have some writing abilities. He clearly has a creative mind and is capable of telling a story one can follow. This would be a good draft, but not a final published work. He needs to decide if he wants to tell the monster’s story of the detective’s, then rewrite entirely from that point of view and also invest in an editor. If these steps are followed, Pepper could have a solid book here. As it stands now, though, I can’t in good faith recommend it to anyone, even staunch horror fans.
2 out of 5 stars
Source: Copy from the author in exchange for my honest review