tamela_j (tamela_j) wrote,

Book Review: Trace by Sam Starbuck

From Jacket: Colin Byrne is a pickpocket, an artist, and an occasional consultant for the police. He’s also an ex-felon, an initiate into the feral, unspoken magic that only prisoners know: how to vanish, how to tell fortunes, how to steal souls. Now the man who put him in prison wants him to return to Railburg State Correctional Facility to help investigate a case.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this book. I have enjoyed other works of the author and have been reading his blog for years now, so I knew that I’d enjoy his storytelling and style, I just didn’t know how much.

I think the thing that surprised me was the magical realism. As much as I enjoy that genre, I very rarely seek it out, so I didn’t go looking for it when I picked up this book. It was a lovely surprise. As was the shock that the book really came to life the moment the bars clanged shut with Colin “Suicide” Byrne on the inside...again.

Don’t get me wrong, the brief moments of domestic bliss between Colin, Joseph (the cop who put Colin away years before and who showed him a life worth living after being rehabilitated) and Joseph’s wife Analise in the beginning was touching and beautifully rendered. All the more so when they became the thing that Colin clings to while battling demons both old and new in the joint.

Starbuck does an amazing job of showing life behind bars with its gangs and seedy underbelly without weighing it down with unrelated stereotypes just for effect. In addition he also introduced a whole new group of prisoners, the special select, like Byrne and his friends, who have powers that they collectively refer to as “mojo.” In so doing, he gives us a sense of family that I was pleasantly surprised about. In fact, my only criticism of this book (and it’s one that I have about a lot of shorter novels) is that I really wanted to know much more about this family. But that could just be me and my fascination, bordering on obsession, with secondary characters.

For example, I would read an entire book about Noel, the tattoo artist, post-Aryan with an intriguing past only alluded to in the book. So much angst and untold story in that guy and in his relationship with Colin!

In other words, I completely, unequivocally recommend this book to anyone who loves stories that stick with you and work their magic into your subconscious for a long time after.

Available at Lulu as eBook, Paperback or for a free(!!!) ePub.

As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

Tags: 2012, books, review, self-published
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