2022 Reading Challenge

2022 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 260 books.
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Book Review: The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese

One of my favorite bits about running a blog and doing book reviews is finding clever new stories/authors that I would not necessarily have stumbled upon on my own, since despite my dedicated omnivore reading tastes, I am still constrained by the laws of time and space (mostly time), which necessarily limit my ability to learn about every intriguing new book out there… Truth be told, I don’t really find them – they find me, which is a delight for many reasons, not the least of which is the books themselves (also numbered significantly in the reasons is the ability to then engage – frequently on an ongoing basis – with said authors about said books). Today’s book is one such example. I was contacted by the author, Robert Kroese, and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his latest, The Big Sheep. He graciously provided me with a complimentary review copy.

If you want a plot summary, you can check his website or Amazon, both are aptly descriptive (Amazon is longer) so there’s no need for me to rehash them. I’d rather talk about the book itself. What a fun find, and I’m delighted to report that the fun won’t end here, as there’s a sequel in the works…

The story starts out quite clever, which anyone who knows anything about me knows is the way to hook me in. I’m a fanatic for great first sentences and engaging first paragraphs. (I also dig unusual cover art, so how could I not want to see what the electric sheep signified??) This one starts out wry as a good martini and continues to intrigue from there. I enjoy futuristic tales that dare to dabble in the art of speculation about what the world will look like – it’s a bold move, given how it can date a book, but it works here. The concept of an LA ravaged by societal collapse, resulting in a split between the “regular” and warlord-ruled portions of the city, is not so far afield that it’s unimaginable, nor is it so fearfully likely that it’s scary. It’s just an interesting backdrop, and allows the author to play with concepts of freedom and control in ways that resonate nicely with the underlying concepts of the novel (which I can’t really get into without major spoilers, but trust me…).

The characters offer more than passing nods to the Holmes/Watson dynamic (especially, and weirdly for me, I think, the TV version currently running on CBS with Jonny Lee Miller, who is fantastic in the lead role), with Keane offering Holmesian deductive logic while still deploying enough quirk to keep this side of stereotype… Fowler is a great foil for him, the consummate straight man with some hidden talents of his own. Supporting characters are well developed and the plot knots up and smoothes out a couple of times, just to keep you guessing. There are some fun spins on hot scientific topics (again, I can’t really get into this without a spoiler, but again, trust me), and there’s a dishy bit of his own brand of Hollywood/celebrity baiting that makes for some very funny (and eye-rolling in a good way) moments.

This was a clever construct with great set-up, and I am definitely looking forward to the next installment – due out this Fall, I understand. And definitely check out Robert’s website and other books – how can you not want to read things written by someone who calls their own website badnovelist.com?? ๐Ÿ™‚

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