Archive

Posts Tagged ‘the preying mantis’

Book Review: The Preying Mantis by Andreas Louw

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

MS Paint drawing of a bloody praying mantis.Summary:
FBI agent Betty Roy has been pursuing one serial killer for years.  He murders one young female teacher who plays a musical instrument per season.  Suddenly, though, he contacts Betty herself and starts ratcheting up the rate of the killings. He seems to have some sort of personal interest in her.

Review:
I picked this up during the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale for two reasons.  The plot sounded intriguing, and honestly the cover amused me.  What I found inside was a plot that was mostly strong (although it fell apart at the end) that was unfortunately supported by some truly bad writing.

Let’s start with the good. The plot is genuinely creepy.  Although the Preying Mantis (as he calls himself) is fairly typical for a serial killer thriller, he’s got enough unique qualities that the reader is left intrigued and guessing.  The murder scenes are brutal and frightening.  I was engaged enough that I kept reading in spite of the bad writing quality, purely because I wanted to know what happened at the end.

Unfortunately, the plot at the end takes a bit of a nonsensical nose-dive.  I have an incredibly difficult time believing that the FBI would let an agent recently removed from a serial killer case who they know is currently being pursued by him run off into the middle of the woods without backup. Or some sort of catch the criminal plan she is in on.  Similarly, I have major issues believing this same FBI agent would be stupid enough to go to the woods at this point in time, let alone go there without her big guard dog that she instead leaves at a friend’s house. It’s a lot of characters acting stupid just to get them to where the author needs them to be.  Thankfully, that only shows up at the end.

As for the writing itself, there are three separate issues at hand.

First up, we have an omniscient third person narrator telling a story that takes place almost entirely in New York City with American characters, and yet the narrator repeatedly speaks British English. This is bizarre, confusing, and jolts the reader out of the story. I actually had to check a couple of times and make sure the story was indeed happening in NYC.  Here are a few examples:

She had met the old man before and knew his heart was a bit dodgy. (location 1095)

He thought it best not to point out at this stage that if he had been shagging Wells’ wife, he might not have been gay. (location 2306)

Betty came out of the shower, refreshed, and took out a pack of crisps and a soft drink. (location 3553)

In case it’s unclear, Americans don’t say dodgy, shagging, or crisps. We say sketchy, banging, and chips.  I suppose it’s possible that Louw could want the narrator of this event taking place in America to be British, but if so, it should be for a reason. For instance, it would make sense if the story was being told by a British person researching the killer at a later date.  That is not the case, though. As previously pointed out, this is an omniscient third person narrator telling a story set in America. They should speak American English.  The British English also drifts into the American characters’ dialogue, but there are far larger problems with the dialogue, so I won’t bother citing those.  Suffice to say though that if it’s a problem for the narrator to speak British English it’s an even larger one for the American characters to do so.

Speaking of dialogue (see what I did there), let’s get to that.  The main problem with the dialogue is that it doesn’t sound realistic.  At all.  Also every single character sounds exactly the same.  The Latino-American cop sounds exactly like the white American FBI Agent who sounds exactly like the serial killer who sounds exactly like the head of the FBI’s investigation.  And none of them sound realistic.  Rather than try to explain it, let me show you.

I shall go mad if I don’t have anything to do for the next two weeks. (location 310)

Would you like to order out? I am quite hungry and can do with some sustenance. (location 1213)

After about fifteen minutes he emerged form his office and said, “Let us go.” (location 2868)

How come you being here all by yourself in the middle of nowhere, dear? (location 3617)

The only way dialogue like this would work would be if, say, one character was OCD about never saying a contraction or had Asperger’s Syndrome or something.  But none of the characters are like that and also they all speak exactly the same way.  It’s a real problem for dialogue to sound so incredibly unrealistic. It drags the reader out of the story, plus it’s bad characterization. Each character should have an individual sound.

Finally, there are the general grammar/spelling issues.  The most annoying being the author’s tendency to switch back and forth between present and past tense, frequently within the same sentence.  For example:

She had been hunting him for the last two years and it reached the point where he has invaded every aspect of her life. (location 123)

Lemke had played this kind of game before and he is definitely not going to let someone like Newmark get under his skin. (location 669)

Shudders up and down my spine, y’all. And not the kind you’re supposed to get from reading about a serial killer.

Overall, the book has a relatively unique plot that is overshadowed by a first draft quality level of writing.  I encourage Louw to get either a co-author or an editor for future endeavors, as well as a wider variety of beta readers.  Sound editing and checks by beta readers could have cleared up many of these issues.

2 out of 5 stars

Source: Smashwords

Buy It

 

 

Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale Finds

Smashwords is a website that lets indie authors sell their ebooks in multiple formats, including: kindle, epub, pdf, rtf, sony, palm doc, html, and javascript.  It’s an interesting community with some pretty unique stories.

Since I’m an author with a presence on Smashwords, I became aware of their annual Summer/Winter Sale (so entitled to cover both northern and southern hemispheres).  After agreeing to have Ecstatic Evil participate in the sale, I thought I’d check out the listing of all participating books to see if there were any that caught my eye.  Here, then, is a listing of the ones that I found and downloaded for 100% off with the sitewide coupon code SSWIN.

Nail partway into wood.Clear Heart by Joe Cottonwood
A love story for men about nail guns, wet concrete, and strong women. When carpenters work for bigshots – and fall for beautiful women – who gets nailed? “It’s funny, very tender, and enormously, tremendously human. In fact, Clear Heart just might be one of the most human books I’ve read in a long time.” —Colleen Mondor, Bookslut

 

 

 

Woman in blue gazing at sky.The Veiled Mirror: The Story of Prince Vlad Dracula’s Lost Love by Christine Frost
Legend has it that the love of Prince Dracula’s life committed suicide during a siege in 1462. Author Christine Frost tells the story of Ecaterina, consort to Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian prince who served as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The richly detailed story of Ecaterina is a romantic, supernatural, and adventurous view into one of history’s most notorious figures.

 

 

Red silhouette of woman walking.Callisto: Adrift by Erica Conroy
Stealing damning evidence from a certain covert ops section of Space Corps makes Jasmine a target. So what does she do? She runs. Hops the first civilian transport ship out of there, but of course the bad guys still find her. Luckily for her the dark and brooding half-human man on board, is a deft hand with a sword. Unluckily for him, helping her could be hazardous to his life!

 

 

 

Image of black woman in period clothing.Portrait of the Past by Kate Halleron
The year is 1880. Marguerite is an artist and former slave who is hired to paint a wedding portrait for a wealthy family. She soon finds that the family has close ties to her past from which she has constantly fled. Instead of fleeing again, she stays to paint a portrait of her former family, and in so doing she begins to understand the difficult choices her loved ones were driven to make.

 

 

Elderly man holding picture of himself when he was young.The Silence of a Soldier: The Memoirs of a Bataan Death March Survivor by William J. Duggan
It was 1942. The fight for the Philippines was over. Japan was the victor. American POW’s sat beneath the burning April sun in the fields of Mariveles. At the point of a bayonet, 75,000 U.S. and Filipino POW’s carried sacks of rice, dried fish and ammunition for the Japanese move across the Philippines. Thousands died. Bub survived. This is his story.

 

 

 

Yellow tent surrounded by darkness.Gone by Brian Alaspa
A group of employees trying to have a weekend of bonding in the woods. What they get, however, is a weekend of unrelenting terror. What is making them disappear one at a time? Why can’t they leave? Will any of them make it back or will all of them end up “Gone?”

 

 

 

Cartoon of woman dancing in purple dress.Polly’s Wild Dance by Sidnee Elliot
After twenty-five years of dealing blackjack in Las Vegas, Polly Brilliant throws the cards in the air, sells everything she owns and makes a beeline to the Greek island of Kythira to paint, write, and forget about men. Or so she thinks.

 

 

 

Red-eyed bug.The Preying Mantis by Andreas Louw
Since investigating the murders of young, female teachers by a serial killer, FBI Special Agent Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Roy has been having nightmares. When he contacts her, latent memories from her childhood starts resurfacing. Who is this man they call The Preying Mantis?

 

 

 

I’m excited by the finds for my personal TBR pile, although lord only knows when I’ll be able to get to them. *eyes size of TBR pile*.

In any case, if you love free books as much as I do, I encourage you to check out not only these titles but the page dedicated to the sale!  As you can see from the titles I chose, the genres are incredibly varied, and I bet you will be able to find something that strikes your fancy.