Sin and Vengeance (Review)

I just finished Sin and Vengeance by C.J. West. It was gripping, but not perfect. I did not finish that last, short chapters, and I would not read it again.

This is an edge-of-your seat thriller about a young winemaker named Charlie Marston who gets caught in the middle when his friend Randy Black kills a guy in self-defense, they accidentally discover millions of dollars hidden in the wall, and then Charlie helps him steal the money and cover up the evidence. The reason the guy was there in the first place was because Charlie and Randy were having sex with his wife. This book is intended for mature audiences only, in case you didn’t guess.

While I always wanted to read on to find out what happened next in the story, I also wanted to put the book down, so that I wouldn’t have to stop and look at the scenery, paragraphs of description about things that have nothing to do with the story’s conflict and about which I don’t care. It was a painful read, not a fast one, and several times I considered just cutting my losses and going on to something else from my growing stack of backlog.

I was also annoyed that the characters occasionally undergo transformations, but these were often not well anticipated or justified and came off as fake, just making the characters do what you want them to in order to move the story along. You can see this in the first chapter (see the links below) when Charlie overcomes his trepidation and decides to participate in the, er, group activity. But nothing changed, nothing happened to Charlie to motivate him to do something different. We’re supposed to believe, “Finally, he couldn’t resist,” as though it was only a matter of time. But time alone does not make a person change. Something is missing in the characterization.

This is the pattern, unfortunately. At one point in particular, Charlie was encountering a new situation, and I realized that I didn’t know how he was going to respond. What I mean is, I had no idea how he might respond. When Lorelai enters a new situation, I have some idea of the kinds of things she might do, because her character is well defined. (Yes, my name is Tim, and I’m addicted to Gilmore Girls.) But when Charlie enters a new situation two-thirds through the novel, nothing.

The ending further disappointed me. The worst of the conflicts seemed to have been basically wrapped up before the last few chapters, and the only conflicts remaining felt fake. Did I really believe justice would be so superficial? No. And in fact, neither did the characters. The whole reason for keeping the authorities out was that as soon as they got involved, everything would come out.

So, in summary, Sin and Vengeance is a gripping story with a lot of potential. But I did not finish the last couple chapters, and I do not plan to read the book again.

Sin And Vengeance
by C. J. West
22 West Books
October 31, 2005
paperback, 248 pages
ISBN: 0976778807
9.0 x 6.0 x 0.6 inches
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