Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Thriller / Crime
Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store
Cristina Martin was born in Miami, Florida. She earned a degree in Criminal Justice from Florida International University, then moved to New York where she began a career in investigations for the city.
Horace Gray lives a mundane life. He hates his job and is bullied by his wife. Everything is routine. Until the day he sees a pair of beautiful eyes staring back at him through the slot of an automat…
This was an incredibly frustrating story. Horace Gray is a very dull man. He lives a very dull life. His wife hates him, there are shades of domestic abuse around their relationship. He has an awful job. Then one day a pair of eyes change his life and he obsesses about them. That’s about the sum of The Automat really. It’s tedious and I struggle to think of a single redeeming feature.
Unfortunately the author makes several fundamental and huge mistakes. In an effort to demonstrate how dull his life is the story is dull – we don’t need to see everything he does to understand this, but nevertheless this is precisely what happens. The same with Horace’s character, there is nothing likeable about him. He’s an utter wimp. Once he begins to obsess about the girl at the automat this becomes excessive too.
Then there are the other characters. The wife is brutal to the extreme, far too much. Another example, Detective Bones, a homicide detective who apologises for his surname and says how inappropriate it is – yes really. I very quickly had no affinity for the cast at all (it’s worth noting it took 13% into the book to learn he’s called Horace and 18% before his surname is revealed which doesn’t help either).
Also the author will tell you several times what the character is doing, e.g.:
I walked closer to the automat and its old neon sign grew larger as I drew nearer to it. It flickered as I walked closer and closer.
It happens over and over. Then there’s an incredibly high use of repeat words within sentences and paragraphs. Here are a couple of examples:
On this unusual day I went to the coffee station to get a cup of coffee and then to the window to get my coffee cake. I inserted the coins in the slot and watched as the window opened. I reached into the window to get my coffee cake as usual, but when I did the back door opened. What was unusual…
I went downstairs and turned on the television, but it was hard for me to watch the television with my wife mixing drinks in front of the television. She would stand there, obstructing my view to the television, mixing up a gin and tonic…
This happens many times.
The dialogue is also poor and stilted. It just sounds like nothing anyone would say. Finally, there’s no sense of place. I couldn’t tell it was in New York, I only learnt this from the author’s bio.
All in all a tiresome, frustrating novel that I struggled to see the point of or care what happened to anyone.
Nothing of consequence.
Many paragraphs in bold.
Rating: * One Star