Hell to Pay by William Brian Johnson

Posted November 21, 2011 by Kate in Liked It, Review / 0 Comments

This book reads like a gritty cop novel, only it has a paranormal twist to it. The content itself is not exactly rainbows and sunshine, it definitely has a seriously dark tone throughout the novel. The characters within the book are rather tortured, and really it’s quite easy to feel bad for them. They all seem to have gone through some hard time, and are struggling just to get by.

The main character is Bailey, he’s a homicide detective, although its clear from the very beginning he is a broken man. While working a case a few years back, Bailey failed to save two young twin girls, and their murders weighed on him so heavily he lost a bit of his sanity, along with his marriage, and delved into serious alcohol use. While Bailey is sober when this story starts, it’s clear that the rest of the force believes he is a joke or is trying to get him fired. It’s really not hard to want to pull for Bailey to get a couple of successes.

The other character is George, and he is just a regular guy who owns an antique shop. Well that is until a box shows up with a scalp in it, and everything for George changes. He is suddenly a suspect in a homicide, his body is changing over night, and quite honestly when the novel is being told in his point of view, it reads like he is having some kind of psychotic break. The reader is aware from pretty early on that something supernatural is happening to George, something he doesn’t understand. I think this is why it doesn’t bother me that sometimes when I was reading from George’s POV and I felt confused, it was okay and authentic because George was pretty confused about what the heck was happening to him.

So I’ll start with the things I liked about the book. The writing in the book is pretty good. There are few typos or grammatical errors if any, and generally speaking the flow of the words is pretty good. It doesn’t jump around unnecessarily, the characters are genuine to themselves, and the plot progresses at a good rate. The tone is like a said, like a gritty cop drama, it literally almost reads exactly the way you would expect a dark cop movie or tv show’s tone to be.

The paranormal elements in this book is kind of a heaven and hell, good versus evil theme. There are most ghosts or apparitions, I’m not really sure what to call them, but they keep popping up around the two main characters. It’s very clear from early on in the book that’s it’s a heaven and hell type situation, and that stays pretty consistent until suddenly almost out of no where there is a mention to ancient mythology. For me that felt unnecessary and kind of almost made me question all the build up through most of the story.

The was one scene in the book I felt was both unnecessary, strange, and gratuitous. This scene I refer to is a sex scene, and a rather violent one at that. I don’t feel it did anything for the story line, or rather that it could have been accomplished some other way. The scene just felt out of place, like the author thought to himself, there should be sex in this book, and through this one in.

Overall the book was pretty good, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the ending, but that’s something that is up to reader to decide. I think this is a book more for people who like books about cops and murder investigation, and have an interest in the paranormal. There is no romance, so if you are looking for romance this isn’t your book. This is also not the run of the mill urban fantasy either, like a said before, it really is a cop book first with a paranormal element in it. It’s also a book that’s fairly long, so this is probably not a book that is going to be read in one sitting, but it is good enough to keep your attention and want to know what happens, which is a good thing.

Check out the authors blog  http://fatherthunder.blogspot.com/

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