Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: Virginia Creeper by Blaine Pardoe

I love me a good serial killer story, so when I was approached to review Virginia Creeper by Blaine Pardoe, I jumped at the chance. The publisher generously provided me with a .mobi file of the book and I immediately put it on my Kindle and started reading.

Then, a funny thing happened when I was about 20% through the story. The book's print font on my Kindle suddenly changed. It became almost unreadable. The print was either way too large or way too tiny. And it was only happening with this book. Other books retained their fonts. I tried deleting it and reloading it to no avail. I was already caught up in the story, so there was no way I was not going to finish it, so I ultimately had to load the file on to my Android smartphone and I was able to finish reading it using the Kindle reader app, which allowed for a more comfortable font size to be used.

The story takes place back in the 1980s during the time of the Clinton White House scandal and it focuses on the Route 211 Killings in Virginia and the process in which the killer, Andrew Fitzwater, was brought to justice. The author, Pardoe, launches into the tale from his own point of view as the book is written as a play-by-play to the "real-life" events as they supposedly happened and he played a significant role in the killer's due process.

I was immediately drawn in to the story as Pardoe did an excellent job of giving it a deepening sense of dread while continually warning the reader of the unexpectedness that lied in wait. Early on, the story's intrigue and the fact that this notorious killer has been virtually erased from America's encyclopedia of serial killers kept me wanting to find out exactly what the hell happened up there on Pignut Mountain.

The details Pardoe injected into the book left me wanting to know more about this case, but just like he says, you just can't find any information about the killings or Andrew Fitzwater. Since the Clinton debacle was taking center stage at the time, the local serial killer story became page six news. Nevermind the fact that America has an incredible fascination with serial killers; Andrew just happens to have been the latest in an entire family of serial killers that nobody, including anybody on the Internet, seems to know anything about. I was starting to wonder just whether or not Pardoe was pulling my leg in the "true-life" direction he was trying to lead me in.

Ultimately, Virginia Creeper is a tale of two books. The first half of the book is incredibly intriguing and it encourages you to keep reading. But, the second half of the book started to get a little repetitive. Throughout the second half of the book, Pardoe makes countless, and I mean countless, mentions of how busy he was dealing with clients and working on projects and traveling for meetings and just how much work he's always doing. It started to feel as if some lines were thrown in just to make the word count as they didn't add to the story at all. Next, the second half of the book is littered with typos and misspellings to the point that it started to take away from the enjoyment of the story. I mean, I couldn't get through a single page without at least one grammar or spelling miscue. Since Pardoe is a professional writer by trade, I'm hoping that the mistakes are just due to the usual e-book formatting headaches because if they aren't, then he seriously needs to re-read his material or at least hire a better editor before putting out another book.

Sadly, it's because of the problems that plagued the second half of book that I have to give Virginia Creeper *** out of *****. The first half was stellar, but the mistakes and unnecessary self-promotion in the second half kills the book's momentum like the fictional Fitzwater family kills Virginia co-eds.

No comments: