STORYLINE: Thomas, a freelance criminal investigator is called in to help the police with a series of unusual murders. The clues lead nowhere and the police need to have the crimes tied up before people start screaming serial killer.
Thomas: A sensual, intelligent man with a strong appreciated for the female sex. He’s also a top-of-the-line crime solver.
Claire: The woman who loves him and whom he loves, only it takes him a while to admit, accept and do something about it. She’s also an ex-FBI officer.
Miscellaneous police characters: Associates of Tom whom I kept mixing up as the story unfolded.
I LIKED: the concept of the story – a set of seemingly random murders that are in fact orchestrated. It takes Thomas, who is also ex-FBI, to best the killers at their own game. I fell in love with Shane’s prose. Really liked the way in which he puts words together to show both character and plot. I also liked the relaxed nature of the relationship he shared with Claire. A time or three, I did think the relationship strange as it came to involve two other women - Bugsy (a writer) and eventually Valerie, one of the professional killers. Before that there were some lesbian undercurrents between Bugsy and Claire.
I COULD HAVE LIVED WITHOUT: the way the language broke down the closer I got to the end of the story. There were quite a few F bombs in the book, and the more dangerous the situation became for the hero and his associates, the more he descended into using that one word and a few variations of it. The ellipses that were at first distracting also started to drive me nuts after a time. I’ve never read a book before with so many of them. I understood the mind-blowing implications that came from knowing that all eleven murders were staged by professional killers, and that he and Clare would almost certainly be killed, but still…some restraint would have worked better, I think.
OVERALL COMMENTS: The book had a strong Caribbean flavor and many things Jamaican in it. The hero wasn’t Jamaican, however, there was much that was familiar to me based on the fact that he grew up on an island. I’m guessing this is part of the reason the publisher (a Jamaican outfit) fell in love with the novel. There were many snippets of songs that the writer used to fit in with the current situation and another interesting aspect was the notes that were left on the bodies – signed GBM - that weren’t really clues.
Again, I liked the voice. The narrative and dialogue were presented in the way that so many men speak – in incomplete sentences. Tom also noticed many things about the female characters that only a man would. I found the crimes unique, and graphic in part and also admired the way Tom’s mind worked to tie the almost non-existent clues together to come to his conclusion. I’m not sure I’m satisfied with the way the perpetrators were dealt with. It felt kind of convenient.
At the end of the novel, I wanted to slap Tom and his women in the head. It was a stretch to believe this man was so appealing that three women would be in a communal type arrangement with him. Still, to each his own.
SOURCE: I borrowed this book from the library, having read the back cover.
RATING: Gingerbread Man was a truly awesome read.