Book Review: The Crooked Roads Through Cedar Grove

There’s an unsettling anomaly dwelling in the picturesque New England town of Cedar Grove. Kathleen, a seventeen-year-old newcomer to the town, is harassed and bullied by her classmates. Alex and Bethany purchase a beautiful home for well-below its value, only to discover that the reduced price offers them more than they bargained for. Brian develops an infatuation with a girl he finds online, but she’s not who he expects. There is a sinister presence silently twisting their fates together on the crooked roads through Cedar Grove.

Available 06-02-15 in digital format

Rob asked me to review his book, and I was glad to do so.  This is a thriller/mystery, with several distinct plots running parallel.  The overall pace of the book is fast.  There are a few points early on where I wasn’t certain what was going on.  The three stories are independent of each other, except for the setting – Cedar Grove – and the swirl of supporting characters that inhabit the town.  I wasn’t sure how he was going to tie them all together by the end.  That’s part of what makes a good mystery so good – how do these all tie into each other?  At the end of the book, there was only one plot line I remained unsure of how it tied into the story.  However, this may be my inexperience with true mysteries talking, rather than a fault in the story itself.  I might have missed a clue or five.

There’s enough going on in the story that I had to check the listing to see how the book was classified.  There is a little extra repetition in the early chapters that is suitable for the younger readers, but the themes and some of the on goings that provide the darker aspects to the work may not be suitable for the younger teens.  The ugliest aspects are handled with understanding (as well as can be, since they are critical points to the plot).

The character development is well done.  Many times I could see acquaintances, or even friends and school age enemies in the teenage characters from the actions and descriptions provided.  A few of the adults were a bit shallower, and I’m not certain why they came across that way.  The main story seems to be about Kathleen, which may be the cause.  None of the characters felt like cardboard cutouts, but in the plots that weren’t directly tied into the main theme the characters didn’t get as much attention.

The world building was solidly done.  The story takes place in the modern U.S.  though no particular state was mentioned, nor were any clearly definable landmarks – like mountains, bayous, or forests.  However, it’s also mentioned this is a very small town, and having lived in a town with only a warning light, the setting for this story definitely fits the bill – everyone knows everyone and their business.  There were a few customs that helped to make the setting more than just an empty backdrop for the action to occur in front of, which was nice.

Overall, there was something lacking, though it was a good tale.  I hate to knock even part of a star unless I can solidly define why, yet for me this one isn’t quite up to a full five star rating.  So I’ll have to go with a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  If I can figure out why, I’ll update the entry.  It definitely keeps you on your toes, and makes you think about how things tie together.  A couple of interesting plot twists along the way that caught me flat footed (and by the time these came into play, I’ve usually managed to figure out what’s going on.  May not have solved the puzzle, but at least I know all the pieces.)

 

If you liked the book review, and wish me to review your work, please stop by my Offered Services page, and send me a submission.  I’ll be glad to consider almost any book.

Happy writing everyone!

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