Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: A Spark of Justice by J.D. Hawkins

Media Type: Ebook
Title: A Spark of Justice
Publisher: Self-published
Author: J.D. Hawkins
Pages: Kindle; 196
Release Date: August 21, 2015
Source: Author
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy stories with vivid and interesting settings.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
A fatal accident at the circus sparks an insurance investigation that leads John Nieves, a former New York cop, to a list of murder suspects. It seems that The Great Rollo, beloved of millions, had enemies... both at the circus and among his own family. 

All that is surreal and magical about the circus brings out Nieves' deepest fears, blinding him to the very real danger that is closer at hand. A bizarre series of revelations and coincidences keep Nieves' suspicions of the circus people high, even after the actual evidence suggests that the incident really was only an unfortunate accident. 

The furtive actions of Rollo's wife and brother, the beneficiaries of his insurance, lead Nieves into even dirtier family secrets. Apparent attempts on his life from all quarters threaten Nieves, but he refuses to drop the case until the whole truth of who killed The Great Rollo is revealed.

I won't even attempt to deny that it was the circus aspect that drew me to read this book. When J.D. Hawkins contacted me for a review, he mentioned that he had lived and traveled with the circus for many years. First hand knowledge promised me a vibrant setting, realistic scenes, and a new glossary of terms. How could I resist?

Which brings me to the main point I want to make about this book, and that's the fact that the setting really is the attraction to reading A Spark of Justice. The circus comes to life on the pages of this book, with both the fun and the grit attached. As John worked his case, each new character he met added to the depth of the setting. I met a family of clowns (the "Zannies" as I was soon taught), the ringleader, the big cat feeders, and everyone in between. Circus life came to be the center of this book, and it was fascinating.

The downside of this, was that John's character, as well as his case, suffered from hiding in the background. John was likable enough. I think his passion for the circus is what made me like him most of all. He just never felt fully fleshed out. His past as a cop was mentioned, which helped to fill in a bit of why he was so good at police procedure, but there wasn't much else there. Just enough to make him a character, but nothing to make him feel realistic.

I felt like the mystery had the same problem. At first, Rollo's death was prominent. Suspects were laid out, little clues were dropped, and John was on a roll. Slowly though, things dwindled. By the time the actual culprit was found, it all felt a bit anti-climactic. I know that John wasn't a cop anymore. I know that his hands were tied in certain aspects. Darn it all if I didn't want some action though!

Still, A Spark of Justice is a solid and enjoyable read. I'll happily award it 3 stars for bringing the circus, and all its performers, to life. It also really made me want some popcorn.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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