Tag Archives: Jason Richards

‘Shattered,’ by Jason Richards

I reviewed the first book in Jason Richards’ Drew Patrick mystery series the other day. I told you I thought the book not well written, but that I appreciated the spirit of the thing. I liked the hero and his supporting cast, and the positive atmosphere.

So I invested in Shattered, the second book in the series. I hoped author Richards might have learned a little with the passage of time, or perhaps got an editor to help him.

Alas, there’s been no improvement on the writing front.

I like it that Drew has a traditional PI’s office above a Cambridge, Mass. city street. Such offices in hard-boiled mysteries always give me a warm, homey feeling – and it’s nice having Drew’s beagle mix, Dash, there to keep us company.

A couple named Jeffrey and Cynthia Holland are the clients who come to the office this time out. Their daughter Ashley has disappeared, and they’re concerned. They don’t want to go to the police, because they fear publicity.

Alas, Ashley is dead already. Her murder seems to be tied to the deaths of some other attractive young women – young women who, it turns out, had been working for a high class escort service, and had been involved with the same man – a high-powered Hollywood studio owner.

There’s not much mystery in this one; author Richards identifies the guilty party early on, making the plot a race against the clock to prevent the next murder.

It seemed to me a lot of opportunities to raise the dramatic tension were lost here. The guilty party could have been concealed, for one thing. And instead of the cops loving Drew and being happy to have him pitch in, they could have resented him and blocked his efforts, in the more plausible tradition of cops in the hard-boiled genre. There could have been conflict between Drew and his girlfriend Jessica.

Also, dramatic opportunities were lost. The character of Cynthia Holland, Ashley’s mother, is intriguing, but we don’t get to know her very well.

And there were lots of writing problems. Mistaken use of homonyms. Spelling errors. Overwriting – Drew tells us more than we need to know, and explains himself too much. A good editor would have cut this manuscript down by thousands of words.

So my verdict remains the same. I salute and appreciate the author’s effort. But he’s not writing very good books at this point. I hope he ups his game.

‘Chasing Shadows,’ by Jason Richards

It isn’t often I like a book without considering it well written. But that’s the case with Jason Richards’ novel Chasing Shadows, first in his Drew Patrick private eye series.

Drew Patrick works in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He gets hired by a single mother named Bonnie Ross, who is concerned about her teenaged daughter Tina’s relationship with a young man named Aaron. Aaron is a college student and a promising football player, but Bonnie doesn’t trust him, and Tina has changed and grown distant since they started dating.

There’s nothing criminal about that, but Drew agrees to check the boy out. Turns out Bonnie’s concerns are justified. Aaron has been working as a collector for a loan shark, and is being pressured to commit murder. But Drew, assisted by his girlfriend Jessica (also a PI), a couple friendly sheriff’s detectives, and his faithful beagle mix, Dash, will do his best to get between the kids and disaster.

Okay, about this book. It’s not very well written. There are proofreading and spelling problems. The dialogue is often turgid – a lot more contractions could have been employed, for one thing. The author’s attempts at wit are hit and miss – more often than not he presses his jokes where a lighter touch would have been more effective.

But I appreciated what he seems to be doing here. He seems to be trying to recreate the magic of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books – Spenser worked not far away in Boston. The Spenser books were refreshing in their time. Unlike past hard-boiled shamuses, Spenser was optimistic in attitude and took care of his health. He also had healthy relationships with women, and eventually connected with a regular girlfriend. I really liked those books until Parker allowed Spenser to become totally whipped.

Similarly, Drew Patrick is a positive guy with a healthy attitude. He is devoted to his girlfriend, cheerfully rejecting all passes from other women. He even has a dog – something often useful in breaking the ice with people, and (for most of us) a sign of good character. Also, perhaps, a nod to the Thin Man.

But he isn’t entirely believable. He doesn’t seem to care much about paying the bills, and pursues “justice” even when not being paid. And the regular cops seem happy to have him meddle in their investigations (something I find hard to believe).

So I can’t give Chasing Shadows my highest recommendation. But I won’t deny I kind of enjoyed the book. You might too. Only mild cautions for adult content.