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

And with the above opening line, “POW!” I thought, “What an amazing opening! Let’s see where this leads”. And, to be fair, it started out promisingly. And then that feeling tailed off after about sixty pages maybe? Yeah, sorry, it’s another bad review. Let’s get the plot out of the way and then I’ll moan.

Jason Getty is a fairly quiet, unassuming man who bides his time and has had to come to terms with the sudden death of his wife a few years ago. Since then, he’s been very lonely and sparks up a friendship with a man he comes to wish he’d never met. After months of being taken advantage of and being pushed to the limit, Jason kills this man and, with no other options available, buries him in his garden.

A year or so later, Jason has hired some gardeners to spruce up his garden and make himself feel a little brighter, as well as improving the appearance of the house. But then one of the gardeners makes a discovery and Jason is well-prepared to look shocked and appalled when the body is revealed to him. Only …  this body isn’t where he buried the one all those months ago. In fact, it turns out that there are three bodies buried beneath Jason’s lawn, and he only knows how one of them got there.

With the police now snooping around trying to find the identity of the two bodies so far discovered, Jason must battle his conscience and wonder what to do about the third body, the one he knows about, that will ruin his life if discovered. Everything comes to a head when one night murderers, innocent bystanders and the police descend upon the house, leading to one of the most morbid farces in literature.

So, the book had promise, and the idea is quite cool, but the execution let it down in quite a way. I keep finding this with books – sometimes the concept is just too good for the story it gets wasted on. Jamie Mason seems to be of the opinion, “why use a word when a paragraph will do”, meaning that the book is about a hundred pages too long (and it’s only 326 pages anyway) because of superfluous description and endless, endless similes and metaphors. I’m not knocking them – some of them are really rather good – but they aren’t necessary in every paragraph. The action gets lost in the description and I kept finding myself reading things and wondering where exactly they’d happened because I didn’t remember. At one point I read two whole pages before realising none of it had sunk in. My mind wandered and I found myself continually wanting to go and do something else instead of reading, which is unusual for me. But does mean I’ve made considerable headway with a replay of Portal 2.

Jason Getty is a thoroughly underwhelming character, boring and flat and not someone I’m particularly interested in. The other characters also seem to be lacking a fully fleshed out third dimension, and we spend great portions of the book in the mind of Tessa, a dog belonging to one of the policemen, which all frankly feels a little bizarre. The dog seems almost too human to be real, apparently having an almost supernatural understanding of human language.

The book had so much promise but apparently lacked an editor. It’s claim of being a darkly comic thriller is blatantly false advertising, as it hardly made me laugh – a couple of chuckles in the opening chapters, perhaps – and it certainly didn’t thrill. There are a couple of gratuitously disgusting scenes, and simply too much jumping back and forth between narrators and timelines for it to make easy reading. If Mason publishes anything else, I won’t be in a hurry to read it.

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