Review: “Everyone Pays,” Seth Harwood

Pros: Midly interesting plotting
Cons: Awkward and stilted narrative and dialogue; female character issues
Rating: 2 out of 5

In Seth Harwood’s Everyone Pays homicide officer Clara Donner is on a mission. Bodies are starting to pile up, but they’re bodies of really bad people. Once Clara realizes why they’re being hunted, will she do the job and apprehend him, or will she decide to give the killer a helping hand?

 

We have a gender problem here, and it’s a delicate thing to have to discuss in a review. IMO, this is what happens when a man who doesn’t understand women writes about one. There are plenty of men who write major female characters I love (Jim Hines would be a great example), so please don’t misunderstand me–my problem is just with this one author. Clara has to immediately get in people’s faces, and constantly go on about the problems she faces as a woman in Homicide, even though there don’t seem to be many hardships for her there. And some of them are her own problem: she makes a snide sexual joke about her partner, but when he fires back appropriately a second female character (ME Ibaka) suggests they should report him for harassment–and all indications are that she’s perfectly serious, despite having witnessed the whole altercation. Clara doesn’t go through with it, but does seem to consider Ibaka’s words. Added to that, Clara is pretty much unlikable as a character. It’s weird to see someone writing a character that they don’t seem to like or have respect for:

Maybe I liked making guys look bad. Maybe I liked it a lot.

Michael, a priest who is our spree killer (don’t worry, that isn’t held as a secret–his own chapters have his name written right there), at one point kills someone in a manner that should have left him drenched in blood, yet somehow no one notices. There are little holes like this all over the place. For instance, they rescue a woman whose tongue was cut out, and no one tries giving her paper and pen until much later. At that point she just writes a few cryptic words and mutely gestures at them repeatedly in an odd game of charades, despite the fact that she could just write out what she means. Then we have some oh-so-lovely plot ridiculousness when a man is being tortured by having his bones broken by a baseball bat, and yet he seems to keep up a relatively long and quite clear conversation with his torturer.

There are a number of things that keep the pace from rising toward the end. Father Michael has interminable interior monologues, as does Clara. At 90% through the book one should be speeding up, not taking breaks for more musings.

The writing itself is awkward and stilted in many places. It’s just… weird. Hell, at one point:

“One of [the EMTs] worked on my side, doing what his profession advised him to do in these situations.”

Ya don’t say. Really?? That last clause added nothing to the story and was redundant, and this is hardly the only piece like that.

I would not recommend this book to a friend.

 

Book provided free by publisher for review via NetGalley
Expected publication date: April 26, 2016

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