Reviewed by: Sam Waite
Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words
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Sharlene Almond is “an author of historical/21st century psychological, international thrillers.”
For more, visit Ms. Almond's blog.
Parallel stories are told of modern day serial murders and those associated with Jack the Ripper.
Initiated to Kill is an unimaginative rehash of Jack the Ripper crimes with a tired sub plot of a Freemason conspiracy to control the world.
The narrative skips among three time periods, including depictions of the original Ripper murders, modern-day parallels and flashbacks to the heroine’s childhood. The story alternates point of view with sections belonging to the heroine in first person. First person is given to other characters as well, adding confusion to an already poorly constructed story.
For gore aficionados, there are human hearts delivered in wrapped packages to police and detailed slicing up of murder victims, along with rape and torture. Nevertheless, the greatest horror of Initiated to Kill is its butchery of English prose.
“I’m afraid we don’t have any definitive news on Celestina, per say.
“His thrusts came quick and deep, gripping onto her buttocks.”
Did his thrusts really grip her bottom?
“His wife was much older than him,…”
Should be he. Errors of objective and nomative case abound.
“Her eyes widened, she tried to struggle; her breathing in rapid bursts.”
Semicolons are used extensively in the narrative, often incorrectly. In this example, the semi does not join two complete sentences.
“The immaculately gardens and land bespoke of the hard-working staff he employed.”
“Bespoke” means tailor made. “Immaculately” is an adverb used here as an adjective.
“Eyes averted his openly intense stare.”
“Avoided,” not “averted.”
“…the blooming orange trees crammed with the bright orange fruits…”
“Cram” means to force something into a confined space. It doesn’t describe a tree loaded with fruit.
“When her parents rung me…”
The simple past tense of “ring” is “rang.” “Rung” is a past participle.”
“The tension was plausible.”
The tension may have been believable, but I doubt it’s what the writer intended. Perhaps palpable?
“The train ambled…”
Amble means to walk slowly.
* Factual errors:
“…hanging ferns sprouting into bloom.”
Ferns don’t bloom.
“Duck, peacocks and swans swam leisurely on the still waters.”
Peacocks don’t swim. Also number, singular/plural should be consistent.
* Wooden dialog:
“It’s actually a family heirloom. Since I’m the only one that wanted to live in Spain, they said I could have it.” His sophisticated English accent only added to the allure of his overall demeanor.
One would expect a sophisticated speaker to use “who” rather than “that.”
“Uh, uh sir...well...a package was delivered at the desk...and well uh, it’s addressed for the CID division.”
* Faulty logic:
“The little boy remembered how Charles Dickens spoke of a similar ordeal.”
The boy, later described as five years old, recalls Dickens and relates the memory to his own circumstance.
“Valero tightly gripped his paddles (He is in a rowboat, so he grips oars not paddles), sculling back and forwards.”
The boat would go nowhere. A rower would scull in one direction and feather the oars in the other. Also, “back and forth” or “backwards and forwards,” please.
“Rubbing his hands on a weeks old stubble, reminded him he should have shaved this morning.”
Weeks without shaving would produce more than stubble.
* Simple bad writing:
“Drying off, he meticulously picked out the clothes he would wear that day. Aligning his shirt, pants, underwear, socks and shoes. Carefully putting each garment on, each time smoothing out invisible wrinkles. Moving towards his bedside table, he went to put that treasured object on.”
“Aligning…” and “Carefully…” are not sentences. That awful structure is used purposefully throughout the novel. If wrinkles are invisible, are they wrinkles? What is there to smooth out?
“Paint flaking off the walls, sprawling of inherent descriptions lining available waiting space.”
I can’t guess what that means.
“Hastily they covered her, not noticing a pool of dark liquid, racing to find the nearest constable.”
Blood racing to find a constable?
* Style inconsistencies:
“Her model-like height of 5’8 accentuated her thin frame…”
“The way she held her five-four inch frame.” We also need the word “foot” after five.
*Aside for history buffs:
“This place is filled with cultural influences imbedded (embedded is preferred spelling) from history. The Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla are rainwater tanks. These tanks were named after Maria de Padilla, mistress of Pedro the Cruel. He supposedly killed her husband, but she refused his advances and poured boiling oil over her face so that Pedro would not want her. She became a nun and is a symbol for purity in Seville.”
The passage describes the legend of Maria de Padilla, not the history. She bore at least four children sired by Pedro and whose names are recorded in history.
According to the front matter, the novel was edited by Jeremy Tyler, who bears at least equal responsibility for the multitude of mistakes and a style that embraces inane disregard for grammar. Ultimately, the fault of offering such shoddy work for sale to the public lies with the publisher Whiskey Creek Press.
My examples of errors may seem exhaustive, but they scarcely begin to describe the problems with this novel.
There are many misspellings, words missing, and unwanted words left in sentences.
“He believed he was a god, that’s why I suspect is why they chose him.”
This is also a run-on sentence.
Rating: * One Star