Friday, January 4, 2013

Insane and Out / TJ Price

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Thriller

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


I couldn’t find anything meaningful about TJ Price, but you can read his blog.


Jason Carver is a newly promoted, newly divorced tax inspector, but he’s fed up and wants to make a change in his life. Jason has recently inherited a house in Orbaton and he wants to move away from London. However, he needs cash to pay for the refurbishment and afford to have a part-time job (so avoiding paying his ex-wife maintenance). Therefore, Jason bribes a tax evader, Albert Carlotti, to bank roll him.

But Jason has a new neighbor, Dennis Brodan, and they immediately get off on the wrong foot. Brodan is renting Jason’s garage and will not give it up. As Jason’s mind spins out of control, he fixates on Brodan as the source of his ill will and decides to do something about it.


I really don’t understand the purpose of this story. The premise, that Jason is going steadily mad and the underlying reason, aren’t clear at all. I sort of figured out what had ultimately sent him around the bend on the last page, but by then I just didn’t care because most of the outline leading up to it was unclear for a number of reasons.

First, Insane and Out completely failed to engage me. It’s not badly written, but some sentences are odd, i.e. they didn’t seem to fit with the prose, and others were just downright difficult to understand. To give an example of the former:

‘There was no-one else on the train, which hummed with a vile, sonorous drone, just like it was being pulled by a million meat flies.’

Okay Jason was having a dream, but it would probably fit better in the horror genre. And of the latter:

‘His hair was jet black and below his pallid, almost waxy complexion glowed an unhealthy tinge of hectic red.’

I’ve read that sentence perhaps 10 times and I still don’t get it. Maybe it’s me, but why make it difficult for the reader?

The characters are lifeless and add nothing to the narrative. They appear, make a few comments and then sidle off again. Sometimes a potential conflict is created by the character, but almost always isn’t followed through. For example Jason meets someone he calls Wolfman in the opening chapter. Wolfman wakes Jason up, helpfully meaning he doesn’t miss his train stop (the reasons why are explored for a few pages). Then he and the Wolfman walk to the same location. Wolfman invites Jason to join him in the park for a couple of beers…yes it is that dull.

This issue continues throughout the story. At one point Jason thinks Carlotti is going to kill him, potentially interesting, but then this possibility evaporates – instead Carlotti gives Jason a brand new car. The situation Jason gets himself into with Brodan is pointless, who cares that Brodan is renting the garage and he can get to his car faster than Jason? Not me. Yet the author spends many chapters investigating this. Yes, Jason might be going mad but the reason for the conflict? Far, far too weak and unbelievable to create tension in this context.

The dialogue is bland and laborious. It’s like sitting on a bus and being forced to listen in on a particularly boring conversation between two strangers who you hope to never meet again. Unfortunately, you’re treated to every word uttered.

Finally, there was absolutely no sense of place for me. Jason eventually lives in Orbaton, where’s that? In the ‘grim’ north of England where everyone’s ugly (where I happen to come from).

Overall, a very disappointing read that almost sent me mad in the process.


Occasional strong language.

Format/Typo Issues:

Several spelling mistakes, an unfinished sentence, missing words, spelling of a character’s name changes, occasional format / layout issues.

Rating: * One Star


Walter Knight said...

Keith, you rat. One star? May the fleas (or meat flies) of a thousand camels nest in your shorts.

What we have here is a failure of communication between the U.S. and U.K. Lots of people in the U.K. (well, Scotland) have hectic red hair. It's not a crime.

I concede most readers don't know where Orbaton is located, but that shouldn't rate the book only ONE STAR. Some of my best friends are Orbatonites. Orbatonites have long been persecuted in the U.K., and long ago forced immigrate to Pennsylvania and El Segundo, California.

So, you should give serious consideration to at least TWO STARS before you substitute for BigAl again . . .

BooksAndPals said...

Oh my, Walter. When Keith sees this (since he doesn't know you and your unique sense of humor) he's not going to know what to think. :)

I should point out thought that your theory doesn't hold up because Keith lives in the UK.

Walter Knight said...

Is Keith from Wales? I thought so. That's not really part of the U.K.

Unique sense of humour? As just a common ordinary simple defender of American destiny and authors worldwide, I am totally serious. I hope this post goes viral to bring attention to . . . well, I don't know what, but I hope it does, and there is outrage about lots of stuff.

The people are with me. Most of them. Some. The Amish Mafia will be calling upon Keith.

BooksAndPals said...

I'm okay with going viral, as long as neither Keith or I look bad in the process. ;)

Walter Knight said...

Tough crowd.

S.W. Vaughn said...

At last, I understand Walter (sort of... :-) And now I like his commentary even more.

BooksAndPals said...

Walter's comments never fail to get a laugh out of me. :)