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Book Review: His Father’s Son by Bentley Little

June 21, 2011 2 comments

Man walking down dirty hospital hallway.Summary:
Steven’s life in California is so typical it borders on boring.  He writes for AlumniMedia.  He’s engaged to a librarian named Sherry.  He goes out for happy hour every Friday night with his three buddies.  Then one day his mother calls him and informs him his father tried to kill her.  His father has had strokes and dementia, but in a moment of absolute clarity in the VA hospital, his father whispers to Steven, “I killed her.”  Thus begins Steven’s tailspin into a world of darkness and ever-changing morality.

Review:
I believe this book succeeds in serving its purpose–it’s a page-turner with chills.  If someone asked me for a simple thriller for the beach, I’d have no qualms handing this over.  I cannot rid myself of the vibe though that the idea of this book could have led to a thriller of excellent quality instead of beach read quality, and that is a bit disappointing.

The set-up is excellent.  Here we have an ordinary guy with some issues with his parents, but he still tries to live up to his family obligations.  Then his father has an episode that makes mortality something Steve is no longer able to ignore.  Steve then starts this quest that could easily be read as a metaphor for adults dealing with the increased fragility of their parents.  However, about two-thirds of the way through, the plot takes an unexpected twist that then essentially nose-dives off a cliff into a scenario that is jarring and rather insulting to the reader.  The book is not at all about what it at first appeared to be, and honestly, the original concept was much more intriguing than the final answer.  The resolution is cliche, whereas the original set-up was not.

Other than the plot, Little sets scenes fairly well.  It is easy to envision both the simpler scenes as well as the more complex scenes of violence.  His writing style is not particularly memorable though.  I didn’t once feel the need to write down a quote or dog-ear a page.

One of the more interesting elements of the book is that Steven is a writer, and his short stories pepper the book to give you an idea of his mental state at the time.  I honestly enjoyed the short stories more than the actual book itself.  I could easily see myself reading a collection of Little short stories in the future.

Overall, this is an enjoyable, if forgettable, thriller ideally suited to summer beach reading.  I recommend it to fans of thrillers looking for an easy read.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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