Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review: First Impression (David K Thomasson)

One innocent interaction changes Jack Bolt's life, and not for the better. After a young woman is found murdered at a local church where Jack had been working, he's shocked. He is even more shocked when the police show up at his house asking questions. Being a good citizen, he is willing to do what he can to help, but it's the biggest mistake he could possibly make.

This book opens up with the telling of Bolt's early years. Saying he had a difficult childhood is a bit of an understatement. This begging section isn't integral to thee main storyline, but it shows how Jack Bolt became the man he is. Even though this was something of a separate story, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. In fact I felt like I was able to connect with Bolt in this first section much easier than in the rest of the book. That was partly due to the fact that this part is written in first person, but it was also because the telling of the events had a more personal tone. Normally I prefer fiction for adults to be written in this person, but I think the rest of the book would have been better served if it had been written in first person the whole way through.

The bulk of the story focuses on Jack's experiences after a local teenager is murdered and he is framed for
the crime. The actual trial doesn't take up more than a few chapters. Most of the book focuses on the events that happen after the trial. Overall, I thought the plot was well thought out. Thomasson obviously did his research on topics like digital photo manipulation, police procedure, and criminology. At times the amount of technical details shared with the reader was too much and slowed down the passing quite a bit, but readers who are not familiar with digital photography as I am might not feel the same way.

The characters in this book were a little hit our mids for me. I connected with Bolt in the opening prologue, but I had a much more difficult time in the main book. I felt like his emotional reactions were very subdued and that made it hard for me to get into his character. I also had I difficult time liking Lucy one the trial started because she seemed very weak wilted and abandoned Bolt. I wasn't sure why he didn't get upset with her. The side characters I actually enjoyed quite a bit. Many of the people Bolt meets were interesting and enjoyable additions to the story.

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About the Author:

In "The First Impression" the murder is committed in Finchburg, Virginia, which anyone from central Virginia will recognize as Lynchburg, Virginia -- which is my hometown. Like Jack Bolt, I graduated from "Finchburg" College and have spent many a happy day at the Peaks of Otter Lodge ten miles west of Bedford Virginia.

After finishing at Lynchburg College (with a degree in math, of all things), I rattled around the countryside and wondered if I would ever grow up and set my sights on a career. The former is still in doubt, but I have stuck with writing for most of my adult life.

During my rattling about, I moved to Columbia, Missouri, earned a masters degree in journalism at the University of Missouri, and hired on as editorial page editor of the local newspaper, the Columbia Daily Tribune. After a year or so at that I rattled back into academia for a doctorate (in philosophy, of all things). Halfway along that trail I transferred to Brown University and finished the doctorate there. New England has its good points, but I didn't find it much to my liking, for two reasons: 1) The winters are too long and cold, and the winter days too short. 2) I am a Southerner and New Englanders, well, aren't.

For the next several years my writing consisted mostly of editorial writing -- at the Providence Journal while attending Brown, then at the Mobile Register when it was still a daily newspaper. One day I was at my desk pecking away at an editorial when out of the blue I received a phone call from someone in Washington offering me a job at a think tank. I took it and lived in the District of Chaos for fifteen years. My apartment was on Capitol Hill, a pleasant place that allowed me to take jogging routes that wound around the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, and through the Capitol grounds.

In 2004 I left the think tank and went solo as a freelance writer. Sometime late in 2010 I got the itch to have a go at fiction -- as nonfiction writers seem wont to do -- which resulted in "The First Impression." In 2013, realizing that as a freelance I wasn't tethered to Washington, I moved back to my hometown of Lynchburg where I'm working on another novel. I'm still mulling over what I want to be when I grow up.

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