True Life Adventures (Paul Mcdonald Mystery #1), by J. Paul Drew

Disappointing read and a 30-year-old book

Sometimes when you pick up a book as a giveaway or for 99 cents you get something other than you expected.  This is one of those times.  Right off the bat, be advised that although it is being advertised as if it were a recently-released book, it was written in 1985, which was not mentioned in the promo blurb nor is it obvious in the first chapters.  Many story elements are now technologically and culturally dated, so think of this as a period piece. 

The story follows Paul Mcdonald (this is how the author spells it), who is a former newspaper reporter in San Francisco, who is now struggling to write a detective novel and working for a private detective ghost-writing his client reports.  When the PI drops dead in Paul’s apartment, Paul gets sucked into the investigation and starts working on a freelance newspaper article because the PI was murdered and it seems to be connected to a case Paul and the dead PI were working on.  When two other connected characters show up dead and someone tries to kill Paul, the chase is afoot

The book is written in a first person narrative with a hard-boiled tone filled with one-liners and clever quips.  This would be generally effective except for the constant side commentary where Paul seems to be “talking” to the reader.  These become tiresome and distracting and never adds anything meaningful to the plot.  There are also many annoying editing errors.  The plot starts out fast, but then bogs down big time in the middle.  Paul’s love interest never feels authentic and his witty repartee with the local homicide detective is cute but a little to artificial.  There is never a good explanation for the first major plot point (the reason why the PI was hired) but there are some entertaining twists along the way and an appropriately harrowing final sequence.  overall this is a decent first novel for a new author in 1985 with common flaws but an interesting plot and a main character with some potential.  But check carefully before buying book #2 in 2019 because it might have been written last century.


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