Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Every now and then I have readers send me books they've written, since I will never turn down a book someone thinks I might like. I tell them up front that their work will probably never get on Epbot, though, so it's up to them to take the chance on sending me something I may never even read. And even if I do read it, I prefer writing reviews for books that really impacted me in some way. Most of the books I read are good, but I want to talk about the stuff that really catches my imagination, for better or worse.
Which bring me to Peter Salomon's book, Henry Franks.
In fact, this is a perfect Halloween read, so I only wish I'd written this review sooner. Like the cover itself, it's a bit dark, a bit creepy, and a lot unsettling.
Henry is a boy covered in scars from a horrific accident he doesn't remember. The story follows him trying to regain his memory while falling for the pretty girl next door, and while a series of mysterious murders ravage their small town.
In a nutshell, Henry Franks is a mystery, and one that is incredibly easy to spoil, so be careful if you go reading other reviews of it. Even the few I saw on Amazon contained references I'm glad I didn't know going into the story.
It's also a mystery that excels in keeping you guessing. At the halfway mark I had this lightning bolt moment where I suddenly KNEW - I knew! - what the story was all about, but then I was wrong. Salomon throws suspicion everywhere, and even turns Henry himself into an unreliable character, until by the end you could believe almost ANYONE was the bad guy.
The story made me uncomfortable at times, and I have some qualms with the ending and the girl's character, but I honestly couldn't put the book down. I read it in less than two days, and despite my gripes with it, I have to say it was still a pretty good ending. Salomon gives us a solid resolution with a lingering sense of dread that's just right for the tone of the book.
My only real irritant with Henry Franks is something that is going to seem a little silly, and that John said I shouldn't mention, because once I do I'm going to curse all of you to notice this thing, too - like telling you not to think of pink elephants. So this paragraph is your warning: if you don't want to think about the pink elephant of Henry Franks, skip the next paragraph.
No? You really want to know? Ok, it's the heat. Yes, the heat. Franks takes place in Georgia, and for the first half of the book I felt like every other paragraph included some reference to how hot it was, or how much someone was sweating, or how it was so muggy and hard to breathe, until I felt like I needed to turn the AC down myself. I'm sure that was intentional on Salomon's part, and to be fair, I DID read it all in almost one sitting, which no doubt made me notice it more, but I still yelled at the pages at one point, "I GET IT: IT'S HOT." Heh.
So, to sum up, if you're looking for something creepy - not scary, but creepy - and suspenseful to read, I'd say give Henry Franks a try.
UPDATE: And the randomly selected winner IS....Devon Pavan! Please e-mail me your mailing address, Devon, and thanks to everyone else for entering!
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