"The Gift of Illusion" By Richard Brown.
Author, Richard Brown opens this his debut novel with a sharp kick.
Detective Isaac Winters… relives the memory of the night 16 years before when his beloved wife Linda was murdered by an intruder. The intruder shoots and almost kills Isaac… before shooting Isaac’s wife Linda four times in the chest. Isaac manages to save his baby daughter, and kill the intruder: then spends the ensuing 16 years punishing himself for not being able to save his wife.
The author has a gift for description, which he utilizes to full effect in these opening scenes.
We are then taken on a journey into the bazaar, where nothing and no one is what they appear to be. The characterization of Isaac Winter is well fleshed out, his guilt and his attempts to continue protecting his now teenage daughter are made clear.
This is a man you care about enough to want him to not merely survive, but to do so happily.
The apparent murder of a young girl by fire, and the subsequent death of her mother and her father send Detective Isaac Winters and his reluctant partner Daniel Simmons into a world of confusion and doubt.
The deaths appear to be ‘Spontaneous Human Combustion’ with no accelerants or any other form of fire implements being found at any of the scenes. A pile of ash, and a remaining limb or part of a body is all that remains. That and the same small, carved statue found at each of the scenes are all they have to go on.
More disappearances, more incinerated bodies and the reader is given an insight into the evil force controlling the entire situation. The body count grows.
Enter Veronica Maples an author of a non-fiction work titled “The Illusionist.” Ms Maples sees a sketch of the statue in a newspaper and is stunned to find it matches a photograph used in her book.
She brings the book to the attention of Isaac and his partner. I found the ability to suspend disbelief a little strained at this point…the plot is very good, however the calm acceptance shown by the Detectives at the writers claims seemed out of character for the men. Especially given the cynical point of view attributed by the central character of Isaac up to this point.
Apart from that small jolt, the story moves along at a good pace, a few instances of less than pristine investigative techniques displayed by the seasoned cop and his not so young partner don’t distract the reader sufficiently to spoil the remainder of the book.
It is a good read; the author has a command of description and dialogue that hold it together well. The horror scenes are well handled and not over the top, the paranormal elements are skillfully crafted.
The ending is a little rushed for me, however not enough to spoil a good read. All in all a debut novel that shows descriptive skill, and a talent for storytelling. I will be interested to read more of Author Richard Browns work…I believe he shows real talent here.