Book review: The Cracked Mirror, by Joseph R. Freeman

freeman-cracked-mirrorFreeman, Joseph R. (2015). The Cracked Mirror. 161 pages. $19.98. ISBN: 978-1-4834-3372-1.

Street hustler Paul finds love with new guy Mike who has just hit the streets. But all is not well. A serial killer that has been dubbed the Falcon is stalking street hustlers and killing them in a gruesome fashion. When Paul’s friends start to get targeted, Paul begins to write anonymous letters to the newspaper to draw the Falcon out. Struggling against the police, Paul finally confronts the Falcon in a violent showdown that shows that there may be more a connection between them than at first seems clear.

This book had a lot of issues with plotting, pacing, flow, and logic. For instance, when the main group of characters become convinced that their friend has been killed but they need to view the body, they decide to blackmail a police officer by luring her into a dominatrix-themed sexual encounter that is surreptitiously filmed. Which is odd enough, but instead of one of the inner group conducting the sting, they instead use an outsider who used to be a hustler but has now become successful and hustles on the side every once and awhile for kicks. And if that weren’t confusing enough, the blackmailed police officer is portrayed as a stone-cold, career-driven jerk for the first half of the book who suddenly starts bending all sorts of rules to protect the protagonist in the last half without any explanation for this shift. And these are just some of the many issues with this novel.

These sorts of elements would seem more at home in a title that was riffing off of the tropes and themes from a soap opera style world. If that were the intention, however, then it needed to go even further. As it is, this is a bit of a muddled mess. There are too many characters for such a short story and none of them are developed enough. The love story between the protagonist and his doomed lover moves very quickly, leading to a lack of investment on the part of the reader. And, for a mystery, this story has such a convoluted ending that it would have been impossible for anyone to figure out before the denouement. As such, it struck this reviewer as more of a thriller with mystery elements.

Unfortunately, this book’s issues ultimately doom its story. While libraries are positively portrayed in the book as both full of helpful individuals with varied skills and technology, this book is not recommended for collection by libraries.

John Mack Freeman


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