Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Review: 'The Prettiest One' by James Hankins


Massachusetts author James Hankins is not only a movie star handsome man he is also a highly successful and honored writer. In addition to these skills he has been active as a lawyer (receiving his degree from University of Connecticut School of Law), was in health administration and embraced screenwriting. Attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, he received the Chris Columbus Screenwriting Award. His five published books - SHADY CROSS, BROTHERS AND BONES, JACK OF SPADES, DRAWN and THE PRETTIEST ONE have been popular with the public and critics alike. As James states, `I write novels. They're all thrillers, with elements of other genres as well -- mystery, suspense, police procedural, paranormal/supernatural. I try to write books that make you want to read one more page before turning out the light . . . and then another, and, well, maybe just one more . . . ` James lives with his wife and twin sons just north of Boston.

James Hankins is a name already established but soon to be tattooed on the signpost as one of America's most significant writers in his chosen genre of Thrillers. Where he comes up with the off beat characters that should not be immediately appealing and takes us through a transformative acquaintance by the end of his book where we are committed fans is a gift. And he accomplishes this in a conversational tone that seduces us into the darkness of a place we otherwise would avoid - that old urgency to see what is in a darkened deserted cellar that hasn't seen a light source for years.

A `for instance', in introducing his main character he opens his book with this: ‘“My name is Caitlin Sommers,” she said aloud even though she was alone. Her feet hurt as she walked. Her legs were tired. She wasn’t sure why she was walking, but she kept going, her sore feet protesting as they carried her across the cracked pavement. Though the night was clear, she walked in a fog. What day was it? Did she have to work in the morning? If so, she’d have to be in the office by nine. For a moment, she wasn’t certain what office that was, then remembered she was a real-estate agent. She couldn’t imagine why that fact had momentarily escaped her. Something bumped against her leg and, looking down, she was mildly surprised to see that she was holding a small canvas bag by its strap. She wondered where she’d gotten it. She didn’t know where she was or how she had ended up there, walking across that pavement. She looked down and saw faded, painted white lines passing under her feet, one after the other, as she walked. She was in a parking lot. An empty one. No idea why. She’d simply woken up and there she was . . . wherever that was. But no, she hadn’t truly woken up, because she hadn’t been asleep. That was how it felt, though, like she’d been sound asleep and dreaming for days. Even now, wisps of pale memories shimmered briefly in her mind before disappearing quickly, the way snippets of dreams so often do moments after waking. I know who I am, she thought, then followed that thought immediately with, Why wouldn’t I?’

The author's summary is terse: ` When Caitlin Sommers finds herself alone in a deserted parking lot with blood on her clothes and no memory of the past few months, it seems like one of the nightmares that have tormented her for years…but it’s all too real. Desperate to learn the truth about where she’s been and what has happened to her but terrified of what she may find, Caitlin embarks on a search for answers. Her journey takes her from the safe suburban world she knows to a seedy town she’s never heard of, where a terrible truth from her past lies hidden—a truth she can’t quite remember yet can’t completely forget.'

Defining what makes James' writing so fine is a tough task - reading him is a better approach than critiquing him. But this book is such a perfect craft that it makes us eager to jump into another one - soon. And that will happen next year with THE INSIDE DARK. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, December 16
This book is free on Kindle Unlimited.








Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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