This is the review I’ve been trying to get to! The Chemist really set me back in my reading, it usually doesn’t take that long for me to read. I usually average 20 – 50 pages a night, not 2.
I feel horrible this took me so long, but it’s up! I finished the book last night! I have also been reading this book on an e-reader so my device kind of skewered the pages. One page might equal one page on my reader, or it might equal 4, there was no in between. So sometimes it felt like I’d gotten a good amount read and realistically I’d only read 4 pages.
Christopher Bowron approached me and asked me to review this book for him, so obviously, I jumped on that right away. I love reading (obviously) and a chance to read a book I normally wouldn’t have picked up on my own is great! I didn’t realize until reading the acknowledgements at the end of the book that this is his first! That really impressed me.
I’m not going to go and say that this is the best book I’ve ever read. But, because this is his first book, there is a sort of humbleness and charm that a lot of professional writers lose. The book flowed like speech so it was super quick and easy to read. This is not a bad thing, some writers get so lost in their words that they lose the story in the explanation. This one didn’t. I never had to circle back and try to figure out what he was trying to get across, I knew, because he didn’t add in unnecessary words or explanations.
I’m not usually a crime or a thriller reader, so I really enjoyed having to step out of my reading comfort zone. This wasn’t a who-done-it type crime novel. He set up the story line, introduced the players, and made you spend the entire time thinking “oh god how is he going to get out of this!”.
Now, to step back a bit before I dive too far into the story, one thing that really drew me into the book was the main character. A lot of authors (and I mean a lot) make their main characters too perfect. The perfect gentleman, the perfect girl, the perfect hero. The protagonist, Jack Walker …is kind of an asshole. He has realistic flaws, being an ex football player recoiling from a drug addiction, and realistic reactions to problems. This makes Jack seem more real (like a person not a character), and makes him way more endearing. You feel for him as he stumbles through the crap hand life has dealt him and learns that his world is a little bigger than himself. The Jack from the beginning of the book, and the Jack from the end are very different. Not in an out-of-character type of way, but in a personal growth way. To me the main character can always make or break a book. And Jack Walker really made it. You want to see character growth through the book; from someone a little self-centred and only out to save himself, no matter who gets hurt, to someone who puts aside his dilemma to make sure his family, and the people trying to protect him, are safe.
And, admittedly, I was drawn in as soon as it said “satanic cult”. I’m a sucker for the dark stuff. Jack, who works for a Florida senator, ends up falling head-over-heels for a woman who works in the same office. Sarah belongs to the Brotherhood of Set – Satanists. In the beginning she just explained it as an open group where people can talk about philosophy and their opinions. Where no one is shunned for who or what they are, or what they believe. Sounds great right? She finally talks Jack into going to meetings with her, to learn what it is all about, to meet her friends, so he can understand her better. Sounds perfectly reasonable!
Turns out not so much. Sarah was sent to seduce Jack and bring him around to make him the fall-guy for a murder. The headline “Cult leader slays two in Clewston” jumps out at you almost immediately into the story. Through the rest of the story you learn that this was just the start of a very large and involved plot (of which I’m not going to give away).
That also impressed me. In the beginning you simply think Jack was brought in to be the fall guy so they could murder two people. But as the story unfolds and characters are introduced to flesh out the story line, a bigger conspiracy is revealed. It never seemed unrealistic or convoluted, and the process of which the Brotherhood of Set put everything in motion made sense. Jack just happened to be right-place, wrong-time.
The events were quick paced and unpredictable. But once I got closer to the end of the book I did realize that it followed the same idea as the first season of the Following. So keeping that in mind, I started to think to myself “what would be the worst possible, and most unpredictable thing to happen right now?” and you can kind of figure things out. But, to me, being able to figure out where a story is headed isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it gives you insight into the authors mind. It was a great read no matter what.
The book ended on a cliff-hanger, leaving a lot unresolved and eluding to an even bigger story. But up until then, he ended on a huge scene, kind of how you’d want a movie to end. The bigger the better. All the main players are in the same area, tension is high because it looks like everything is about to fall apart for Jack. I began to panic because I only had about 6 pages left and the story was hitting a huge high note.
We don’t find out how Jack’s story resolves, so it leaves you itching to find out if he’s going to be okay! But, long story short. I was impressed and really enjoyed this book! It’s only available for e-reader right now, but don’t let that stop you!