Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words
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Sean Patrick Bridges is an award winning screenwriter and movie producer. This is his first novel.
“An Ex-Con on the straight and narrow is pulled into a twisted game of Russian Roulette in Las Vegas to save his wife. 666. Six Contestants, six chambers in a revolver, and six sides of a die.”
The premise of someone being forced into a possibly fatal situation for the entertainment of those more rich and powerful is one I’ve seen several times over the years. While far from likely, it is one of those plots that suspense readers are conditioned to accept and suspension of disbelief is relatively easy. Roll of the Die was a unique twist to this classic story premise, and I thought it had a lot of potential. However, I had three big problems with the actual execution, which had serious repercussions in my reading enjoyment.
Two of the issues are technical. The first was a large number of typos that ranged from homophone issues to incorrect or missing words, and an irritating propensity to hyphenate compound words that shouldn’t be, such as “alongside.” The second of these was that the novel was written almost entirely in present tense. Technically, that isn’t incorrect and can be a valid choice. I did some quick research on the subject and found a nice write-up from Grammar Girl that discusses this. It is much more common in screenplays than novels (which, given the author’s background, explains the choice). Although many times people find this off putting, which I did, it is still a valid choice. However, I found it more distracting because on occasion some past tense verbs would slip in, as in this example “The windows in the sedan fogged up. Riley wipes away condensation, axel [sic] grease from his jacket smears across the glass.” Shortly before the end of the book, it inexplicably shifts to past tense.
I also had an issue with the way one of the significant story threads was (or was not) resolved. There was a letter that the protagonist, Riley, had been given partway through the story that he was to open later. To avoid spoilers, I won’t give details about the letter, other than to say it was important to the story and seemed likely to explain the reasons for some of the events that happened after it was given to him. As the book is wrapping up Riley starts to do something with the letter, which makes no sense, either for his character to do, or from the standpoint of a reader who is logically waiting to find out what the letter contains. Then Riley thinks better of his action, backtracks, and we find out what the letter contains. But the contents of the letter left us with more questions than answers. It is possible this is setting up a sequel and, if so, might be acceptable; however, readers who don’t like to be left hanging aren’t going to like it.
Plenty of adult language.
A large number of typos and other proofreading and copyediting misses.
Rating: ** Two stars