R. Scott Taylor
2007 Booklocker.com. Inc
308 Pages $30.95 Trade Hardcover
Book Review by Kent Knopp-Schwyn
First novels are often a joy to read as they reinvigorate a tired or overlooked horror sub-genre (Zombies in The Rising) or they provide an amazing, if somewhat overwritten character driven narrative (Under the Overtree). However, most great first novels have one thing in common; they all passed through the capable hands of at least one editor before publication and were made all the better for it. A strong editorial hand would greatly improve Stingy Jack.
The novel clumsily mashes together two not-quite-original tales that never really mesh well together. The less interesting aspect of the novel concerns a modern day thief living the high life and needing to make one last big score before retiring. The second and far more appealing part of the narrative deals with the historical activities and adventures of an Irish rogue name Jack O’Keefe.
Mr. Taylor’s fondness for this Irish brigand and the research done to get many of the historical details correct shine through when Jack’s tale takes center stage; leading the reader on a romp through pubs and small towns in historic Ireland. Included in the mix are dealing with a rather inept devil and the origin of the Jack’O’Lantern.
Stumbling points come early and often however with glaring typos, missing chunks of dialogue, jarring changes in diction, the use/misuse of vernacular or brogue and an obtrusive overuse of “he said.” Still, the author’s energy and desire to display his exhaustive research are readily apparent making Stingy Jack a good first effort. After an editorial review of his next work, Mr. Taylor may indeed provide a novel every bit as fine as the few mentioned above.