Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Ladies and Gentlemen... The Redeemers

Title: Ladies and Gentlemen… The Redeemers
Author: Michael Scott Miller
Genre: Action Adventure
Publisher: Createspace
Price: $7.95 Kindle Edition $0.99
Pages: 286
ISBN: 978-1456363475
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Guest Reviewer Susan Helene Gottfried

Book Description:
"Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers" tells the story of Bert Ingram, once a successful rep in the music industry, who has lost his way. Desperate for redemption, the perpetual dreamer decides to put together a band, recruiting musicians who have only one thing in common: the need to overcome a significant obstacle in their lives. The volatile mix of the musicians' personalities and backgrounds threatens to derail the band at every opportunity, but in time, the Redeemers begin to realize they have more to gain from one another than they ever could have imagined.

I'd been hearing about this Michael Scott Miller dude and his book, Ladies and Gentlemen... The Redeemers for a while now. My friend, author Darcia Helle, told me she thought I needed to read it.

How could I say no?

And then Michael himself dropped into my inbox, and in short fashion so did Cheryl, both asking if I'd review the book for them.

And so, here I am. A two-fer, so to speak.

Ladies and Gentlemen... The Redeemers is a heck of a tale. It's the story of down-on-his-luck Bert, who decides to take a bunch of misfits and miscreants and turn them into the band that'll end his down-on-his-luck days. And theirs.

Most bands form because they are drawn together by something intangible. They have chemistry, a shared hunger for success... something. Not the Redeemers. They are drawn together because of Bert and the strength of his ambition to reclaim a part of himself.

Whether or not they'll first find all the people they need to fill out the band properly, if they'll gel as a group, if they'll overcome their natural distrust and, sometimes, dislike of each other... this is what the story is about.

It's a great story. It's one anyone who loves to dream needs to spend time with.

But, of course, this is Susan West of Mars doing a review here, and that automatically means there are faults to be found with this book.

Not many, I'm pleased to say. And in this case, I suspect the fault I found with the Redeemers is one of style.

You see, for me, there is a narrative distance. This means I don't get into the characters' heads, they don't come fully alive. In this book, it drove me nuts. I wanted to really get inside these guys. I wanted to share their thoughts and dreams and desires. I wanted to look to my left and be surprised they weren't real people, right there beside me.

To be honest, I have no idea how Miller could have pulled this off. He's got a huge cast of characters; this point of view was the most logical choice he could have made for telling this particular story. Anything else would have run the risk of turning the book into an absolute mess.

Still, I wanted more of the guys. They are compelling. They have great backstories. They have a great storyline. They probably have a great future, but let's not get ahead of the book here, folks. Although... with a story like this, it is tempting to do.

When I review a piece of rock and roll fiction, I always consider if the page breathes with music. In The Redeemers, it doesn't. It also doesn't need to. This is a book about the personalities behind the music. It's about this band named the Redeemers who are off looking for their own redemption, either personally or musically. These aren't necessarily people who live and breathe music. On the other hand, they are people for whom music is an expression and, in some cases, a way of life. In other cases, it's a dream, something to stretch for and be terrified of.

That is every bit as valid as having the music throb off the page.

Overall, I liked this book. A lot. I'll tell people to read it. I may even hold it up there with some of my top reads although, truthfully, I don't think the (good) execution held up to the (fantastic) concept. It was a hard goal to achieve. Miller did his best, and his best is quite good. I wanted fantastic. I think Miller can and will bring us there in future books.

I can't wait to follow him.

Susan Helene Gottfried is the author of ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes — Year 1, ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes — Year 2, Trevor’s Song, and ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes -- Year 3. She can be found online at, where you can find The Meet and Greet, among other goodies. A tone-deaf rocker-at-heart, Susan worked in retail record stores, in radio stations, as stage crew, and as a promoter while earning two college degrees in creative writing. Susan walked away from a continued career in the music industry in order to write books, so it makes sense that most of her fiction revolves around rock bands. Once you get those record stores, radio stations, and fellow roadies and promoters under your skin, they never leave.

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