Tuesday, March 13, 2007

'Altered Life' by Keith Dixon

TITLE: Altered Life
AUTHOR: Keith Dixon
PRICE: $18.95 (U.S.)
GENRE: Mystery, Murder/PI
ISBN: 978-1-4116-7293-2
PUBLISHER: Lulu.com (Great Britain)

Right out of the gate, this is an amazing novel for first-time author, Keith Dixon.

Sam Dyke, wiseass and humorous PI, is sought by the owner of a consulting firm to investigate who is trying to steal his business. Rory Brand’s company has developed magic bullet software that measures people’s abilities at work and then compares them to a national database. Thus, the skill gaps in any company can be compared to the competition—a valuable commodity to say the least.

Dyke at first refuses the case on the grounds that no crime has been committed, but changes his mind when Rory is found dead in his office the next day. The arrogant killer has even left a taunting message on Rory’s computer screen as the first clue.

Dyke’s determination to find Rory’s murderer takes him through multiple turns strewed with barriers and red herrings, a painful journey into Dyke’s own past, and a secret that has been kept from him for twenty years.

Keith Dixon’s abilities with language and expressive style are amazing. His descriptions of characters and places are beautifully accomplished and unusual, if not a bit excessive at times. And his dialogue is first rate: crisp, lively, and often humorous—among the best.

However, the reader never does get a description of the protagonist, whose last name may be controversial for some readers. And Dyke is perhaps a little too altruistic to be real. He often leaves situations just as they are getting interesting.

For example, Dyke turns down a lucrative assignment because no crime has been committed. Perhaps not very realistic for a new and aspiring PI. And the final scene, where Dyke arranges to meet the murderer, who just happens to be a special forces killing machine, on the side of a dark mountain next to a cliff overlooking a waterfall, carrying only a sap and a knife with an one-inch blade, does seem a bit unrealistic. However, the enjoyable narration carries you through all this.

All in all, an excellent page-turner from an author who has a bright future. You can bet I’ll be reading the next Sam Dyke PI novel when it’s released.

RATING: 8 / 10

Reviewed by Ron Peters: For 40 years I worked for money--now I work for love. At age sixty I began my fiction writing career, and while it took me 3 years to finish my first novel, SOS (no-that's not something on a shingle), I now have 4 published novels and working on the 5th.

These novels, part of the tongue-in-cheek Dun Wheeling PI series, center around a different type of PI. Not one that is gruff and case-hardened, but a young, inexperienced PI that is forced to make it up as he goes, is often over his head, is persistent to the point of being dangerous, and is blessed with instincts and a sense of humor that keeps him alive in a profession with typically short life spans.

SOS, Night Before August, Castles of Deceit, and Sphere of Reason are easy reads that are hard to put down. Come visit me at www.ronpeters.net

1 comment:

Emily Veinglory said...

This one sounds really interesting. When I clear through my review pile I might need to invest in a copy :)