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Review: The Serial Artist by George Finney

Detective John Ressler is faced with a series of murders that defy logic.  The serial killer has an artistic streak; setting his victims in some outlandish poses, painting them, photographing them, dressing them and creating works to enhance their death – and leaving the art at the scene.   What is even more bizarre is that some of the crimes appear to be impossible to have set up and executed in the time allotted.  When they finally capture the artist, he disappears from the holding cell.  Ressler and his partner Holt are stumped.

Mr. Finney then takes us off the grid with some very different concepts and we are transported from the realm of serial killer crime drama to a platform for some lovely science fiction.  I was tickled at the way the plot developed, how Mr. Finney led us, piece by piece through the maze.  The main characters were nicely crafted, the story was woven very nicely and I had a mostly enjoyable read through this novel.  It is a unique story line that made me interested and kept me entertained.

What was disappointing to someone reading for enjoyment was the heavy duty philosophical material that was slipped into the work.  While I appreciated that the author was going for a lot of material in his novel, there really was too much sometimes and I found it to be almost tedious to read in some parts.  We do not really need to have temporal theory explained for us, nor do we need to understand the psychobabble to substantiate the characters.  We can take much on faith, and we do when we read fiction.  We can accept the existence of the Enterprise without having to know how warp drive “really” works.  Same applies to this book.  I found there were parts where I struggled to read thru the material simply because it was superfluous.  It could be cut down a bit, leaving more to the imagination of the reader, thereby not having to drag the reader through the story concepts.

I also felt that the giveaway at the end about his partner was misplaced.  While I do understand that the author was working towards a second book in the series, that little piece could have been held as an extra surprise for the next work, in my opinion.  I feel there is (or should be) more to that story, that the explosion of the information warranted more.  I felt cheated with the brief, haphazard giveaway. There is a way to segue from one novel to another in a series without giving away the candy store.  I think it could have been done a bit more subtlety, as it was expected but not a given till that point.

What was also rather distracting was the poor Kindle formatting.  While the usual self-proofread markings were present but not overly spoiling, the formatting was erratic, margins keep shifting, paragraphs not clearly indicated by formatting, so certain parts seemed to run on and on.

I think Mr. Finney has some great ideas here, some wonderful material that could really benefit from some good editing, proofreading and formatting. I would give this book 3 ½ Stars.    I look forward to his next work in this series.

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