Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Three Graves Full

Summary: For fans of the Coen brothers’ films or for those who just love their thrillers with a dash of sharp humor—an engaging and offbeat story about a man driven to murder, who then buries the body in his backyard only to discover that there are two other shallow graves on his property.

“There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.”

With this memorable first line, we meet Jason Getty, a regular guy in every mild sense of the word. But extraordinary circumstances push this ordinary man to do something he can’t undo...and now he must live with the undeniable reality of his actions. And just as Jason does finally learn to live with it, a landscaper discovers a body on his property—only it’s not the body Jason buried.

As Jason’s fragile peace begins to unravel, his life is hitched to the fortunes of several strangers: Leah, an abandoned woman looking for answers to her heartbreak; Tim, a small-town detective just doing his job; and Boyd, a fringe-dweller whose past is about to catch up to him—all of them in the wake and shadow of a dead man who had it coming.

With the tense pacing of a thriller and the language and beauty of a fine literary novel, Three Graves Full heralds the arrival of a stunning new voice in fiction. -- Gallery

Since I started doing Mystery Mondays about two years ago, I've read my fair share of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels. It's been a lot of fun reading all of the different types of mysteries and I've gone through phases where I prefer cozies or thrillers or even traditional mysteries; and while I wouldn't say I've gotten bored with this genre, I admit that I am on the lookout for something a little different. And that's why THREE GRAVES FULL by Jamie Mason caught my attention. This "thriller" has been compared to a Coen brothers' film with its dark humor, so I thought it might be fun to check it out.

THREE GRAVES FULL has quite the unique premise. Get a load of this... Jason murdered a man, buried him in his backyard, and beginning to move on despite with his guilt. When a landscaper discovers a body (and then another) buried in Jason's yard, Jason figures it's all over; however, neither body is the one Jason buried. (It is kind of funny if you think about it!) As Jason's life begins to unravel, he becomes involved with an interesting cast of characters including some police detectives, the girlfriend of a murdered man, and a man who has been living with some pretty big secrets.

I don't know if I was expecting to love THREE GRAVES FULL, but I did think it had great potential to be a fun, and more importantly, unique read. Unfortunately, I ended up thinking it was just okay. There is no doubt that the writing was good, and at times, very very good; however, the story and characters didn't really hold my attention the entire time. In addition, I never felt as if the book gripped me the way a thriller ought to do.

That's not to say that the book wasn't entertaining because, at times, it most definitely was. I found myself laughing a lot at the beginning, and especially at Jason's predicament. I even found myself kind of liking him (and rooting for him) despite the whole murder thing. And boy were there some fun twists! But all of that still wasn't enough to make me say that I loved this book.

I am beginning to wonder if this genre of thriller just isn't for me. I seriously tried to appreciate the dark humor, but I admit that some of it kind of wore on me. The more I read, the less I enjoyed it -- if that makes sense. Furthermore, I thought the book went from funny to outlandish; and I definitely didn't love the huge chase scene at the end. In my opinion, it would have worked better in a movie than a novel.

Having said that, many readers will find THREE GRAVES FULL to be a great story! One reason for this is Ms. Mason's writing style. It was truly refreshing and original, and she has a way of describing characters and scenes in a totally unique way. I was actually quite impressed with her writing, and I wouldn't hesitate to try another one of her novels. THREE GRAVES FULL is her debut novel and I suspect we'll be seeing more of her in upcoming years!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I think the dark humor is something you have to be really careful with. If done right, it is exactly what you need, but if there is a weak spot, it just comes across as lame. A little goes a long way! Nobody does it quite like the Cohen brothers.

bermudaonion said...

When I read books with plots like that, I almost feel like they were written with the intention of being turned into a movie. I have a feeling the right audience would love this book.

Laura Fabiani said...

When I first saw this book on other blogs I wasn't attracted to it but your review gave me a different perspective.

Carol said...

I like dark humor, but from everything I've read, your review included, this one just doesn't sound like one I'll enjoy - "too outlandish" and "huge chase scene" just aren't appealing.