Q&D Book Review: ‘Price of Justice’ by Alan Brenham

Book Cover Price of Justice by Alan BrenhamWhen a book opens up on a scene of suicide, the reader has to sit up and take notice. Unfortunately, that image is the beginning of many that reminded me more of a police procedural drama than a great crime novel. Without The Who songs.

Jason Scarsdale’s wife is five weeks gone, the victim of a tragic car crash. If only he had gone to the store when she so sweetly asked him to, instead of wanting to watch the game, it would have been him, not her. Just as he’s about to pull the trigger, he gets a phone call from his sister. Sarah has been helping out since Charity’s death, cooking and cleaning and looking after Jason’s five-year-old daughter, Shannon. That’s when he realizes how selfish he would be to end his life; Shannon would have no parents.

Soon he’s back in the swing of things at the Austin Police Department.where he is a detective in the Sex Crimes unit. When the primary suspect, Scott Lasiter, is exonerated in the brutal death of a young girl, and found murdered later, Jason and his partner Sean Harris get sucked into the seedy world of kiddie porn. Soon they figure out not only who killed Lasiter, but also the young victim. The problem is: how do they prove it? How do they figure out the head of this child porn ring known only as the CEO?  And who is leaking information to these low-lifes so they are always one step ahead of the police? There’s a mole in the department.

The secondary story line involves Dani, a woman who works in the police department as an analyst. She can’t reveal her past if she wants to keep her job, but she is finding it hard to stay away from Scarsdale’s daughter, Shannon. She lost her daughter when her daughter was ten. What is her connection to the Lasiter murder?

The tone of the book put me off immediately. It wasn’t the subject matter; it was just too plodding and earnest, like every i had to be dotted and every t crossed to the detriment of the storytelling. It never completely sucked me in; I was always aware it was just a story. Each chapter heading had a quote as well, and some of them came off sounding a bit sappy (“Resentments are burdens we don’t need to carry.” “Children make you want to start life over.” “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.”), It was like the author was shaking his finger at the protagonist. Or me. It was hard to tell.

I was very confused, also, when the writing changed from third person to first person. The person speaking in first person wasn’t even the main-est of  characters. It was off-putting, to be honest.

Some small things that needled me: Shannon, the five-year-old daughter of the main character. She spoke, acted and ate like no five-year-old I know. She remembered all the correct foods they needed for a Thanksgiving meal (she was 4 at the previous one); and she ordered a pizza with mushrooms and pepperoni. Secondly, Scarsdale’s wife has only been gone for 5 weeks. He should be a wreck, and so should Shannon. Next, the German. When Dani travels home to Germany to see her parents, the text has her speaking in English and her parents speaking in German. It was super distracting. Points for effort in trying to show the change in country, etc., but points removed because Dani would have been speaking German, too. Everything had to be repeated in English anyway, and it slowed down the narrative. Honestly, after a while I skipped over the German parts because I knew it would be repeated in the next sentence.

And seriously, would her father really participate in Bring Your Children to Work Day down at the ol’ sex crimes department? Ich glaube nicht. Google it.

Rating: 2.5

Price of Justice by Alan Brenham was self-published on September 6, 2012. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to  the Author.

Genre: Adult Fiction Crime

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