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Friday, November 10, 2017

#CJSReads REVIEW: Written in Blood by Layton Green @seventhstbooks @laytongreen

Written in Blood
by Layton Green
Seventh Street Books


A huge thank you to Seventh Street Books for these copies in return for our honest reviews!

Goodreads Synopsis

Detective Joe "Preach" Everson, a prison chaplain turned police officer, is coming home. After a decade tracking down killers in Atlanta, and with a reputation as one of the finest homicide detectives in the city, his career derailed when he suffered a mental breakdown during the investigation of a serial killer who was targeting children. 

No sooner does Preach arrive at home in Creekville, North Carolina--a bohemian community near Chapel Hill--than a local bookstore owner is brutally killed, the first murder in a decade. The only officer with homicide experience, Preach is assigned to the case and makes a shocking discovery: the bookstore owner has been murdered in exactly the same manner as the pawnbroker in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment

With the help of Ariana Hale, a law student and bibliophile who knew the victim, Preach investigates the local writer's community. As their questions increase, a second body is found, this time eerily resembling the crime scene in a famous Edgar Allan Poe novella. Preach and Ariana realize that their adversary is an intelligent, literate killer with a mind as devious as it is disturbed--and one or both of them may be his next target.

 My Thoughts

Let me start by saying that I skimmed more of this book than actually reading every page.  It's not because it wasn't interesting or that I didn't like the plot line.  I did.  I just couldn't get QUITE into it enough to eat every word with my eyes... but I still needed to know what was going to happen. 

Crime thriller? Check.  Literary references? Check. Small town murder? Check!  All things I love!  This really read more like classic crime fiction over what I typically read that's fast, in-your-face with that somewhat gory suspense that makes me cringe.  Instead, we get more character development and fleshed out back stories.  I loved that the murder was based on Crime and Punishment - what bibliophile wouldn't?  If only I had ever read that book.... oops!  Not that it made a difference in reading this novel.  

We get alternating view points and really get to learn about both Preach and Ari.  Complex characters that you can't help but root for.  Do we need romance in this novel?  Possibly not, but I will say that it worked in this story since I felt this was more about the characters than the crime.  I did felt like sometimes things were just a bit drawn out.  If I skimmed a page or two, I never felt like I lost anything or needed to go back because something didn't make any sense.  Kind of like a soap opera - you can not watch for a year, but the same characters are there doing the same thing, yet you still love it.  Make sense?

I think those who love that classic crime feel with full on complex characters, this cozy mystery will do you well.  I think I just wasn't quite in the mood for it at this particular moment. 

3/5 stars.

Jess's Thoughts

A murder mystery where book references are involved - what more could a crime fiction reader want? WRITTEN IN BLOOD by Layton Green uses references from well known novels as the center in the murder of a bookstore owner. Can Detective Joe Everson solve the mystery before he's next?

Leaving his career as a homicide detective in Atlanta, Detective Joe "Preach" Everson is returning to his hometown in North Carolina. He has to leave behind his successful career after he suffered from a mental breakdown during an investigation trying to find a serial killer that was targeting children. Shortly after he arrives back to Creekville, the local bookstore owner is brutally murdered. This is the first murder in nearly a decade for this small, quiet community. Preach is assigned to the case and as he begins his investigation, he realizes that the bookstore owner was murdered the same way that the pawnbroker was in CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. 

He enlists the help of a law student (and book lover), Ariana Hale. As the investigation progresses, another body turns up, and this time the murder is reminiscent of an Edgar Allen Poe scene. With an educated, literate, and devious killer on the loose, Ariana and Preach begin to realize that they are becoming the next targets.

As some know, I'm a big fan of the hard boiled crime and the more old school crime, well Layton Green definitely captured that tone throughout the novel. The book references in the murder scenes were great, it's always fun seeing literature incorporated into crimes and mysteries. The characters were well-developed and you can really connect to the relationship between Preach and Ariana. Their interactions felt genuine. I think that it kept a good pacing throughout the novel and Green keeps the readers' attention with the progression of the investigation. I wouldn't say that the ending was a predictable one (sometimes in this genre the endings can be seen a mile away). 

Overall, if you want a good mystery novel with a side of book references, then this is one that needs to be on your list! 

I give this one 4/5 stars!

Sam's Thoughts

I cannot believe it is already November!  My wedding has come and gone and the holidays are fast approaching.  November also means time for a new set of #cjsreads picks.  Enter, Written in Bloodby Layton Green.   A crime thriller, which draws from literary references to build the plot?  Yes please!
Detective Joe “Preach” Everson is coming back to his hometown (after a mental breakdown) having spent years in Atlanta as a big time homicide detective.  Creekville, North Carolina is a small bohemian community that is shocked when the local bookstore owner is brutally murdered, the first homicide in decades.   Preach finds himself brought into the case and shocked when he finds the murder mirrors another famous murder found in Crime and Punishment.   With the help of a bookstore clerk and as more bodies are found, resembling scenes in other novellas, the pair realize their literary killer may have chosen one of them as his next target. 
One of the things that especially drew me into this narrative was the “old school” vibe that Green’s prose possessed.  It felt like a classic crime thriller dependent on character relationships and intricate backstories instead of shock value or gore.  It was very smart and subtle.  I loved feeling like I had to do some of the work to figure out where the story was going.  The wheels were turning as I tried to place all the pieces of the puzzle. 
Characterization was one of the strongest points within Written in Blood.  I loved the relationship between Preach and Ari.  I am not normally a lover of any mystery/thriller storylines that wastes my time with a romantic element, but I actually really enjoyed their banter and development.  In fact, Ari became one of my favourite characters within the novel, period.  A woman who uses her bibliophile tendencies to solve murders?  LOVE!
My only complaint with this novel, and it is personal preference, was that, by the end of the novel, it started feeling a little bit drawn out.  I realize that the author was trying to bring together all the loose ends, I just felt like it became a little bit redundant and I felt my mind wander.
Overall, I think any mystery fan will love this dark, brooding prose elaborate plot.  4/5 stars. 

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