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Review of Why Good Men Kill by James Lilley

This is a book about circumstances. It’s a wrong time-wrong place story with catastrophic effects that snowball our hero into a corner. At his back, he has one wall with nothing left to lose and, at the other, I’ve had  it with this. But we’ve shot to the end of the story, where Ed is in a restaurant with a gun in his hand and a body on the floor. This isn’t a spoiler because Ed tells us his plight upfront.

He’s a good guy. We like him—we like him a lot. Everybody does. He’s the type of man that everybody should want in a partner but, well, he’s just Ed, isn’t he? He works his ass off, his marriage has broken down, he’s struggling to bring up his daughter on his own, and life—life feels that he needs more excitement.

He calls himself a builder. Though the reader sees him more as an odd-job man, picking up work where he can—he wouldn’t like that. He’s a builder. He gives a young contractor some advice on a chimney. C’mon, what can go wrong with that?

Oh, no.

What I love about this book is the freshness of it. There are a lot of genres around that rely on rich language, like period pieces and the vampire crowd, and rightly so, they demand that style. This book is the opposite. The style is laid back and easy. There’s nothing complicated about the writing, and that is a skill and a standard in itself. However, don’t confuse an effortless style with the complexities of the plot as Ed digs himself deeper in the quagmire with every chapter. The location plays a part in the breath-of-fresh-air cleanness of it, too. We go from beach-life USA to a light, bright hotel in Spain. This story is filled with light and still manages to drag you down a dark, back alley.

Lilley does a very clever thing at the end of the book. It smacks of gimmicky, and usually, I’d hate it and be advising cut, cut, cut. I’m not going to tell you what it is—and no, thank God—it’s not the old, ‘The story never happened, it was all a dream,’ routine, so you can breathe easy on that one. I read it. I walked away, I reread it, and I decided that I absolutely loved the quirkiness of it.

This book is perfect for commuters and people with little time to read. It’s only 30,000 words. There is endless scope to expand this into a full-length novel, and I’d love to read more of it. I didn’t want it to end.

Another fabulous indie book that can hold its own in the mainstream world.




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