Oooh, another debut novel!! There is something kind of exciting about reading an author’s first (and in this case, only) book. Will you get to see their unique view as an author, and will they leave you wanting more? I certainly felt this way after reading John Perich’s Too Close to Miss and was pumped knowing there would be a follow-up novel. While I did not feel quite as excited for a follow-up from this book, I did check Amazon to see what else Benigno has written and was a bit disappointed that there was nothing else for me to get.
Set in the early 1980s, Nick Mannino is a young and ambitious Legal Aid attorney given the opportunity to defend a teacher’s aid accused of child molestation. At the same time, a beautiful woman is asking for him around the courtroom. When she shows up dead, he can’t help but wonder why she was looking for him. In addition, the “Spiderman” rapist is terrorizing New York City. When a suspect is apprehended, Nick rallies for the case. Soon he realizes there are connections between his two new cases and the dead woman. It becomes a race against time as he tries to figure out the connections before more people are hurt.
Overall, this book is pretty decent. Told from Nick’s first person perspective, we get a nice legal perspective, as well as a solid mystery as he unravels the clues around him. Nick is quite well-developed, and I enjoyed him as a lead. He’s ambitious, but not obnoxious. There are two small subplots with his uncle and his girlfriend that vary in their success. The biggest problem here is with certain unrealistic aspects of the Spiderman (once it’s revealed who he is… some of it just left me thinking it didn’t quite line up). A few other things stood out as odd. One of the characters has AIDS, which was called GRID until August of 1982, and the book is set in February 1982. Nick has a random best friend who is randomly introduced at points, but given nothing to do. At one point, Nick calls on said BFF to drive him around, yet when he gets some devastating news he puts BFF in the passenger seat and Nick himself drives, despite being super wasted. His friend disappears until the end when there is another random appearance.
These are all things I consider to be debut-novel glitches, and honestly these are my biggest complaints. The writing was solid and dialogue interesting and useful. Overall, a pretty solid debut, and I look forward to more.
This is available on Amazon for $2.99
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