Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Book Review: 'Shocking Circumstances' by Chris Roy

Mississippi author Chris Roy’s biographical data reads like a novel. He was ‘raised in a south Mississippi trailerhood in the midst of ugly Gulf Coast beaches and spectacular muddy bayous, roaming the towns and wilds of the rich and poor, thieving and thinking without a curfew. Until 1999, Chris lived comfortably with the modest criminal ventures of his youth. But a fistfight ended tragically, his opponent died, resulting in a life sentence for Chris, which he started serving in the Mississippi Department of Corrections from January 2000. Hard knocks are the best teachers - the author learned this almost too late, though he did rid himself of drugs and violence. Chris' institutional record hasn't been marred by a single fight or involvement in drugs - an incredible feat, considering the brutally challenging prison environment he lives in. Now he lives his life of crime vicariously, through the edgy characters and fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn't writing, he's reading, drawing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.’ That story alone encourages readers to explore his talent – and talent as a writer he has.

The very opening of the story demonstrates how well Chris is able to capture atmosphere and character. Biloxi, MS 2010 - The gun smacked into the man’s face with a sound only solid metal hitting flesh can make. An arch of pink sweat glistened briefly in a ray of sunlight before sticking to a shadowed wall. The man’s head rolled around his shoulders, eyes showing whites, his mouth burbling incoherently. A garden hose was pointed at the man, turned on, spraying him in the face. He moaned, rolling his head around again to move his mouth and nose clear of the water. A second assailant stepped forward with a small Taser in his hand. Stuck it to the man’s neck. Jolted him with a low current, zapping him back to consciousness. A loud slap resonated throughout the building. “Tell me where it is, Jose. Where did you hide it?”

Mixing a fine balance between raw thriller and funky humor, Chris rolls out a story of a female boxer with attitude and foresight. The Amazon synopsis is brief and when combined with Chris’ own remarks from his website reads as follows: ‘Clarice “Shocker” Ares is a pro boxing legend training for her final bout. A husband, son and burgeoning businesses need their wife, mother and operator to hang up the gloves. The vast crowds will no longer cheer her name. But Clarice looks forward to feeling the cheer of family love and the sense of accomplishment her tattoo art and metal fabricating skills provide. Her dream life. The Shocker retires....What would a champion boxer do if she was set up and imprisoned, lost her family, home and business, friends…her life? She would fight. With a killer instinct sharpened by despair and a raging maternal will, retired boxing phenom Clarice “Shocker” Ares experiences heart-wrenching loss and unrivaled joy in her quest to escape prison hell and reunite with her family.’

Raw yet polished this is a strong start for a serious writer – a flag waving that someone in there is very talented. The mixture of narration versus conversation is at times confusing to read, but it never gets in the way of this unique story. Grady Harp, February 17
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

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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