I did indeed laugh out loud as I read. I also snorted out loud. You have been warned.
EMPATH DETECTIVE. I had no choice but to read this.
Bill Alive did an excellent job balancing humor, pacing, and serious social issues. At turns light-hearted and at others intense (both dark and hopeful), I found this an accessible read. Some excellent dialog and snippy remarks, and over-all wonderful pacing. The plot and characters were mostly grounded and three-dimensional — complex. That is to say, the plot involves some difficult topics as dealt with by complex imperfect characters. Exactly how I like it.
The view point character, Pete, is a young man who thinks things and talks to women in a way that I would not want to normally read. Except that Pete is human and learning, and I appreciate that Bill Alive created him fully so that I could not easily dismiss him (instead, I hoped he’d keep learning and evolving).
I felt a bit guilty liking this as much as I did — it feels so light and easy to read — because not all the characters were “like me”: Pete’s more (naively) sexist than any character I’ve read in a looooong time. But I was rooting for him and Mark (Mark really helped balance Pete). Mark made Pete think, and I appreciated reading that. We’re not born enlightened (well, maybe we are and society takes that from us, but that’s a different conversation); we’re educated into and empathize into awareness and enlightenment.
Also, I like it when artists create characters who aren’t perfect, who don’t have all the money in the world to throw at their problems, who actually have to communicate with one another and who rely on one another to get by and to survive… you know, like the vast majority of us. Bill Alive has created characters who don’t have perfect lives, who are themselves flawed. Flawed and genuinely human. I appreciate that. There’s depth and history… I have questions, and it’s a damned good thing there’s more books, because I Want To Know.
I enjoyed the self-awareness of the book. I think the meta aspects work wonderfully. I am often delighted when art is aware of itself and when artists play with that awareness to create something different. This awareness doesn’t always pay off, but in “Murder Feels Awful” I feel it did.
I also enjoy interstitial works. This novel has a cozy mystery feel, but is perhaps more serious than what some people might term “cozy”. Except that I never cared for cozy mysteries precisely because of this point — someone dies and the characters of the story romp and hi-jinx their way as if someone hadn’t just died, hadn’t just been MURDERED. I could never get over that disconnect. Bill Alive bridged that disconnect beautifully.
For full disclosure, I received the book for free and I’ve met the author. I’m buying this and the whole series because I love good stories and I love the artists/authors who create them = I’m going to help them pay the rent so they can keep writing more 🙂
This post is a part of my effort to review more of the books I read. Also a part of my newly embraced “finished is better than done” mindset. That’s why this isn’t perfect. But you’re reading it and getting the idea, and that’s the point.