Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet

Murderous Reviews: Voodoo Daddy/State of Anger – Thomas L Scott (2012)

STATE OF ANGER: A Thriller (Detective Virgil Jones Mystery Series)

I get very confused by authors naming or renaming their novels as something that is either meaningless or unconnected to the novel. When I bought this book it was called Voodoo Daddy and at some point changed to State of Anger.
The first title has some relevance which is revealed near the end. The replacement title is a bit rubbish to be blunt and is so vague as to be meaningless.
Virgil Jones is a seasoned cop whose team is called in to investigate a double shooting at the governor’s residence. The shooting however was of a cop and one of the governor’s neighbours. Further seemingly random shootings occur which appear to be linked to a disaster at an airport years before.
I don’t really want to get into any more of the plot as there lies the problem.
Structurally the novel holds up until about 80% in and then falls apart. The murderers are dealt with in quite an anticlimactic way while the author has left the hero too physically damaged to be very heroic.
Then there is the extended tidying up of a subplot involving corrupt televangelists and Jonesy’s army buddy who turned up out of the blue bringing trouble.
There’s also an odd ghostly incident which would have been best left out. In fact there’s a whole lot of spiritual philosophising that would have been fine if it actually went somewhere or helped to define Jonesy’s character, but it doesn’t. It ends up seeming somehow out of place.
I suspect there was just too much going on in this book. It also didn’t help that we know who the murderers are, if not their motive. It also suspends disbelief slightly that Jonesy’s ex-wife is connected to both the murderers and the corrupt godbotherer, as well as a rather too convenient connection between the murderers and the Governor.
One expects a novel to build to a certain climax with perhaps some suspense, some drama, a twist, but it never gets there. The bad people are dealt with before you know it, and then we are left with tying up what’s left of the plot.
Characterisation isn’t too bad although some romantic scenes are a little schmaltzy. There’s even an attempt at ethnic diversity since Jonesy and his dad run a restaurant with a Jamaican chef. He doesn’t appear a great deal. Everyone else is white. I am not sure how realistic that is, and thinking about it although it is made clear that we are in Indiana there is little sense of ‘place’.
Having said all that, however, it’s not a bad read, and some revisions to the last 20% of the book would make an enormous difference. I didn’t see any of the typos and grammatical errors that others have pointed out and presume that these have been amended, with the exception of the word ‘taught’ being used where it should have been ‘taut’ in the sense that something is pulled tight to a state of rigidity.

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