Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words
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Jason Dean Sharpe is Canadian born but now lives and writes in London with his wife and calico cat.
You can learn more about the author at his website.
Deputy Sherriff Dani Vitalli has a puzzle on her hands. Called in on duty from her vacation she finds a naked and beaten teenage girl. Now she has to find out who the girl is and how she ended up there whilst a blizzard blows.
I struggled with this novella for a number of reasons. Overall, although it’s not badly written, it does suffer a number of distracting aspects that increasingly detract from its readability.
What’s immediately obvious is the highly descriptive present tense prose, unfortunately it often feels like the author is simply trying too hard, here’s an example of an early sentence:
Tim nervously raises his meaty right hand up in the air to greet her, forcing a toothy smile through his winter-grown beard.
It’s written in this manner throughout. Pretty much every item and activity has a descriptive word associated with them. It proved jarring.
I have no problem with present tense in general, although I did spot a couple of shifts to past tense and then back again. Authors need to look very hard at this, I feel, to ensure it works. Also there were a couple of occasions when the characters ‘head hopped’, i.e. for the whole chapter we’ve been following Dan’s perspective, then we shift to another person in the room, then back again.
The main character, Dani, is an ex-soldier although other than being told this several times it is hard to appreciate via the action and her behaviours. It’s like a comment on her resume. She struggles to sleep too. Neither of these facts are really of benefit to the story. Okay she’s tenacious and tough, but she doesn’t have to have seen action in Afghanistan to be so.
In addition the bad guy (I won’t say who he is) isn’t entirely believable, his motives were weak, I thought. One minute he is type A person, the next type B - he shifts from normal to evil.
The author also suffers a number of writing quirks. I really struggle when a writer repeats words over and over in a sentence or paragraph, although not dreadful there’s enough in Zachariah’s Ark to be off-putting. Then there’s the heavy use of names, particularly in dialogue. I already know Dani is talking to Tim, I don’t need to be told over. Finally there’s a lots of ‘the’ being used in certain situations, in particular location – for example ‘the Damon’s driveway’. Another disruption in the narrative.
Of lesser occurrence there were some layout, punctuation and spelling issues.
I’ve read far, far worse than Zachariah’s Ark, there is promise in the writing and I hope the author persists.
Nothing of note.
A couple of spelling mistakes and several punctuation and layout errors.
Rating: ** Two Stars