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Unlikely Hero by Frank Giovinazzi

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Our very own Frank Giovinazzi has posted a novella online, and it’s free. After seeing it mentioned both in the original post and in every post of Frank’s since then (grin), I decided I had to try it out. I’m not a huge fan of modern horror fiction (like Stephen King), but I enjoy the older stuff, and since Frank mentions H.P. Lovecraft, I figured, “Hey, it’s pretty short!” I like Dean Koontz, too, so I guess I’m not completely down on modern horror fiction.

I don’t think it was just my low expectations. The book is actually quite good.

And if Frank was an established author with an editor and everything, I might leave it at that. But he’s not, so I won’t. By publishing a book without a paid editor, he pretty much opens himself up for detailed critical analysis, and I shall provide just a smidgen.

My biggest problem with the book had to do with the protagonist’s prediction of police action regarding Beefy. Given that one stereotype about small southern towns is that the cops are always in on the bad stuff – a stereotype alluded to during a retelling of previous events – it is by no means an assumption of this reader that the police would respond positively to revelations about Beefy, and yet they do, just as the protagonists observes that they probably already have. The scene was just a little odd, though obviously necessary at some level for events later in the book.

The scene near the end where the shadows play out the next few days in advance was a little odd, too. It wasn’t clear why this happened, or how Bobby Halloway managed to see several days worth of shadow-play in less than real time. Unfortunately, these questions – or at least the first one – kept poking me in the brain as I read, and distracted me from the climax just a little bit. I don’t quite know how to fix that one either, and it may be just that it can’t easily be fixed.

Still, those two complaints aside, the book was gripping and enjoyable to read. Told from the perspective of Bobby Holloway, perhaps my second question just doesn’t need answered. He doesn’t know why the shadows did what they did, so how could explain it?

It’s a good read. The right people have justice meted out (or will at any rate), and a few innocents are trapped in the process, but that’s life and Frank doesn’t shy away from it.

It’s highly recommended. It’s free. You can download the PDF file directly, or visit Frank’s weblog to get a little info on it. Either way, it’s worth the time spent.

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About pwinn

  • i planned to read it and review too.

    —“I don’t think it was just my low expectations”

    Ouch, but I think we know what you meant 🙂

  • Phillip:
    Thanks for taking the time to read Unlikely Hero, and making the post — and especially the detailed comments.

    I spent the day painting and doing tree work at my wife’s office and thought to myself as I walked in the door — jeez, maybe somebody at least read my stuff.

    ‘Cause that’s what it’s about. And let me address a few points:

    The bad cop — I know, a stereotype, but he wasn’t the prime mover in the case, which would really be a stereotype [i.e., Jim Thomspon’s, The Killer Inside Me]. Instead he was just one of the boys along for the ride, which is very easy to believe in a small town — since the police are 90% homers, it’s natural they maintain some of their connections outside the force.

    Two anecdotes about small town cops which I picked up during my small newspaper days:

    1. The most evil person I have ever met is a detective on a force of 25 cops. Without getting too graphic, let me say I have met many real criminals in my day — I’m talking people who’ve done major state and federal time. This guy, however, gives Iago a run for his money. But how do you write him? I’ve always said woe upon the novelist who would have tried to write a novel about a black football player with white man envy who winds up stabbing his blond bimbo wife to death and then nearly slices her bisexual lover’s head off. Who would want to read such a trite, racist story?

    2. A good friend of mine, a police chief of a small force, is the worst driver with a license in the free world. He is a menace. And he has literally totaled three police cruisers — all single vehicle accidents, two of them involving “deer which ran onto the road.” His story has never been corroborated by said deer. I love the guy, but he’s a 280 pound Barney Fife. How do you write him?

    As for the shadow play, I admit it’s a little creaky, but such a delicious setup that I had to stick with it — the idea of dual time frames is tough to pull off, and I am eager to smooth it out a little. Hence, your comments are welcome.

    Also, last night I noticed some typos, which, believe me, bother me more than the average reader — and we all know we’ve seen typos in books we’ve actually paid green dollars for, which is crazy making.

    Finally, I’d like to address some BlogCritics etiquette, regarding my linking to the story in all of my posts. It’s something Tom Johnson brought up in somebody else’s post, and I don’t want to violate the community. [Which I’m happy to have joined.]

    I did ask Eric if it was okay [yes], and I figure that if I’m making posts, a couple of lines promoting the free PDF isn’t so flagrant. I know you were kidding Phillip, but this is for others who might decide to go Human Torch on me. So I’m going to continue to include those links, especially since I’ve got more stories coming out, but only when I’m making posts — It ain’t Amway.

    Thanks again, I’m glad you enjoyed the story.

    Now I’m going to wash the paint of my hands.

  • I’ve written some of my own as well, though I haven’t had the guts to publicly release any of it yet, so I know what you mean about stereotypes. I actually wasn’t so concerned about the existence of the “bad cop” as I was about the idea that the protagonist was sure that the other cops would restraing said bad cop, not chuckle and go along with it all.

    And I’ve got no problem at all with you plugging the book on all of your posts. Bravo, I say. My grin was just that – a grin. 🙂

  • Frank, I’ve never seen anything wrong with the way you plug your material on Blogcritics. You regularly and frequently contribute (does a day go by without a Frank Giovinazzi post?) In fact, I think your writing is some of the best on the site, and I’m glad to see it here. What I had a problem with in the post you allude to is that the author had never posted before and suddenly is posting a big ad for his own site, but providing no content whatsoever toward Blogcritics. That’s spam to me, and abusive of the power that Eric has given us with Blogcritics.

    That said, I’m going to have to download some of your stuff to read soon. Haven’t had much free-time lately, but I will make some to read your material. If it’s as good as your posts are, I’m sure it’ll be very rewarding.

  • Eric Olsen

    Bravo to you all: thanks to Phillip for reviewing the story, thanks to Frank for being such an excellent contributor, and thanks to Tom for his thanks and recognition of Frank. This is exactly how this is supposed to work: contributors make the site happen, the site gives contributors greater visibility, access to new readers and a forum. Ideally everyone wins.