Book Review: A Life Removed by Jason Parent

Book Review: A Life Removed by Jason Parent

“People say that change is the only constant. I believe there’s another constant in this crazy world of ours: human nature. Humanity is the coldest of words.” -Parent

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A Life Removed by Jason Parent

A Life Removed by [Parent, Jason]

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Publisher’s blurb (taken from Amazon): “Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette have put plenty of criminals behind bars. But a new terror is stalking their city. The killer’s violent crimes are ritualistic but seemingly indiscriminate. As the death toll rises, the detectives must track a murderer without motive. The next kill could be anyone… maybe even one of their own.

Officer Aaron Pimental sees no hope for himself or humanity. His girlfriend is pulling away, and his best friend has found religion. When Aaron is thrust into the heart of the investigation, he must choose who he will become, the hero or the villain.

If Aaron doesn’t decide soon, the choice will be made for him.”

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I received a free copy of ‘A Life Removed’ from the author in exchange for an honest review. For more information, please see my review policy page.

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What I liked:

First off, a huge thanks to Jason for helping me rediscover my love of thriller-type mysteries. I’m a true-crime T.V. lover (don’t ask me how many episodes of Forensic Files I’ve watched) but for some reason I tend to stick to cozy mysteries when I read. ‘A Life Removed’ reminded me how much I enjoy a more action-packed, hard-hitting mystery.

Parent does a great job of keeping the reader guessing. I genuinely had no idea where the story was going, and the reveals were dramatic, but didn’t feel forced. Parent gives just enough details that you start to question what you, as a reader, know about the characters. Then, when the twists and turns happen, you can trace the clues backwards, but it’s still a shock. There were so many times in this book that I said to myself “no, he’s not going to go there… is he?” And then he does.

Some of the best tried and true mystery tropes were present, like the pairing of a jaded older detective with an optimistic counterpart. On the other hand, though, Parent does an excellent job of turning other stereotypes on their heads. Who is reliable? Who is trustworthy? What don’t we know about our characters’ pasts? I’m trying really hard not to give anything away, but the climax was unusual. I got to a certain point, thinking the story was wrapping up, but then realized that I still had another 70 pages to go. Those 70 pages make ‘A Life Removed’ take on an entirely different feel.

What I didn’t like:

Hm… how do I explain this without giving away any plot points?

I wasn’t emotionally invested in any of the characters. While reading, that fact felt troubling, like I should care more than I did. It took me a while to realize that this was an intentional choice on the part of the author. After finishing the book, that decision makes total sense, but I did need to adjust my expectations.

Like I mentioned before, the last 70 pages of ‘A Life Removed’ is what makes this book truly unique. I liked the twist, but I did feel that this section went on for longer than necessary. Once the pieces begin to fall into place for the reader, I got impatient with the characters trying to solve the crime.

Would I recommend this book?

Yes, but not if you’re sensitive, or squeamish in any way.

***MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD/Sensitive Content Warning*** This book is dark. Really dark. It includes violence (obviously), human sacrifice, cannibalism, thoughts about rape, animal cruelty, religious cultism and lengthy passages about suicide. If you’re already a fan of thrillers, I think you’ll be fine. If you’re looking to read a thriller-type mystery for the first time, I’m not sure I’d start with this one***

Additional thoughts:

From a diversity standpoint, ‘A Life Removed’ is really interesting. Aaron’s girlfriend (and her family) are Portuguese, and her brother is described, literally, as “the fat-guy stereotype.” Normally a description like that would make me angry, but it’s true to character for the person who says it. Aaron’s best friend, Ricardo (ethnicity not specified) is dealing with a degenerative eye condition. Additionally, Aaron himself is not mentally healthy. Individually these pieces might not sound that noteworthy, but Parent does an exceptional job of weaving them into the story. The stereotypes (of people who are fat, or those who have a disability) are used in a thought-provoking way. Each of the characters defy their stereotype in a way you don’t expect. Again- I’m really trying not to give anything away, but it’s hard!

I finished ‘A Life Removed’ a few days ago, and the more I mull it over, the more I like it. It’s an intense (at times gross) read, but the character development was fascinating. You just don’t know what you don’t know about people. You never know what’s going on inside someone’s head. Parent takes that idea to it’s extremes, and created a book that will stick with me for a long time to come.

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‘A Life Removed’ is currently available for pre-order, and will be released on May 23, 2017

2 thoughts on “Book Review: A Life Removed by Jason Parent

  1. Thanks for taking the time to try out my book and for the fair and balanced review! It was good also talking with you about it afterward. 🙂

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