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Scarecrow Has a Gun

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Member Reviews

Thank you so much to net galley for sending me a copy of this book! The.characters were very unlikab;e but the plot and everything was really good and that ending was amazing!

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Capturing your true past memories can be explosive and mind bending. The story is intensely felt as you journey into the memories of Sean's life using a 'black box' provided by his boss after winning a bizarre contest. The novel is well written with twists and turns along the way and a surprise ending. A great read for Science Fiction lovers and well worth five (5) stars.

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This book was great, the characters were well developed. The plot was interesting. Highly recommend it.

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Scarecrow Has a Gun is a unique thriller with a futuristic twist that readers will enjoy.
Thank you Imbrifex Books for the advanced digital review copy.

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I received a ARC of this book in exchange for my thoughts and review.

★★★★ 4 nothing is real stars!
“... Know this! Nothing is how we remember it.”

From the very moment this book opened with the Widower's Club and the mind games of Mr. Ulger I was hooked. My curiosity got the best of me and finished this in one sitting. I love a good misery, and even better I love a good emotionally-charged memory reliving.

Plot —
Sean Whittlesea won his last Widower's Club game. It's no secret that every victor from the games seemed to have progressed in some way, either by company ranking or fame or fortune, they've come ahead of the rest. The reward was promise to be life-changing. Sean's is the Memory Palace, a cutting edge futuristic black box that allow its holder to relive every moment of his/her life by displaying all of his memories on a screen. He has now in his very hands the answers to the big mysteries in his life, but the more he get his answers the more he questions everything.

Scarecrow Has A Gun came off as unexpectedly smart and very insightful read. I had not expect the thought-provoking undertone this one has. More to the point, it really made me think and question myself about my own memories and recollections. While I do believe that human memories are not reliable, this still makes me wonder about the extent in which our memories can be tainted. I must say though, the lengthy monologues of some of the characters can come off preachy at times but it was well-received on my end.

Just a few points:
1. Hayley - I can't feel her. I feel so little love between Sean and Hayley;
2. the mystery wasn't too hard guess but still it was satisfying when everything unraveled;
3. what even is the point of the widower's club? it'll be interesting to know the rest of the victors, how they turned out and things this club made possible;
4. I need more of Auntie Josie the hippie.

I'm not the biggest sci-fi reader however I do have a soft spot for memory reliving, live-overs, and time-loops. There is something about those that makes me sentimental and emotional. Suffice to say this hit me heavily.

Thanks so much to Netgalley, Imbrifex Books, and Imbrifex Audio for the copy! I enjoyed this immensely. I was fortunate to be granted both the eARC and ALC so it's simultaneous reading and listening for me! Eh, that's just how I roll, lol.

In other news, holy hellmuffin! First time listening to David Doersch, and this certainly won't be the last!

Narrated by: David Doersch

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I throughly enjoyed this book (also read it in one sitting) very well written and there were so many elements that left me speechless . The plot was very straightforward, although towards the middle it felt very slow paced and repetitive, I still very much enjoyed this read!! thank you Netgalley

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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC. Scarecrow Has a Gun by Michael Paul Kozlowsky is such a strange story. It follows Sean, who witnesses his wife's murder. While he continues to relive the trauma over and over, he cannot recall any detail surrounding it. Twenty years pass and Sean has moved on, he is married with children and wins a contest at work. His prize? A box called The Memory Palace, which ables a person to relive every memory. This sounds like it would be the answers Sean couldn't grasp all those years ago. But, The Memory Palace is all of his memories, is it too much reality? This book really has me thinking, which I loved. An interesting, yet decently realistic sci-fi story. I do recommend this book.

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Sean Whittlesea, who as a reward for winning a perverse contest organized by his boss, is gifted a black box that allows him to relive all of his past memories. With it, he hopes to uncover the truth of his wife's murder, which he witnessed, but of which he has no recollection. He risks what little stability he's found since his wife's death to discover what really happened, but how much of the truth does he really want to remember?

<i>Scarecrow Has a Gun</i> is a fast-paced read reminiscent of Blake Crouch, in that the sci-fi tech is the premise or locus of the story, but the events that unfold revolve around relationships and the consequences of the main character's actions. In my opinion, none of the characters were thoroughly developed, but the tension was strong and the story perfectly paced. I had a great time reading it and was able to finish it in just a couple of sittings.

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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for allowing to read an ARC of Scarecrow Has a Gun!

I really enjoyed this book! It was an idea I have never seen before in a book and I could really feel for the main character Sean as he went through the story. I thought I had the ending figured out and I was right, but for the wrong reason, if that makes sense. I have no complaints about this book.

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Thanks to NetGalley for the arc in return for an honest review.
The plot was interesting I just couldn't quite get into it. I don't think this writing style was for me.

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The story line was captivating but I didn't enjoy all the flash backs and didn't think they were all relevant to the storyline. Definitely a depressing read in many ways. Not as captivating from the start as it could have been.

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My thanks to Imbrifex books, Michael Paul Kozlowsky, and Netgalley.
I've no review.for this book. I suggest going in blind.
I mostly enjoyed it. The middle was a bit draggy, but wowsers, that finish!
I did have to Google the Scarecrow with a gun part!

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CW: abuse, suicide, murder, self harm

This book is really dark - and I may have missed some content warnings. So if you need CW look into them before starting this.

This book is incredibly engaging. I requested the ARC on a whim late in 2021 and got approved pretty fast but put off reading it. But once I picked it up I was immediately hooked and read it in two sittings because I had to know what was going to happen.

The opening is reminiscent of Squid Game, the powerful preying on the weak promising a grandiose prize for the survivor. I was immediately gripped. The action toned down a bit after that but I never stopped needing answers.

What follows is watching Sean compete in one final “game” before he plans to get married to his second wife in hopes of being one of the elite. The stakes may be terrifying but the results are proven - everyone who wins has been incredibly successful and happy. Something a widower like Sean absolutely dreams of.

However winning the Game has a cost - and being enlightened isn’t always what you want.

This book asks the question: can you trust your own memory? And If you had the chance to relive your memories in perfect clarity - would you want your illusions to be shattered?

I loved the reality of Sean’s obsession with the box. Not only does it touch on the reality of our dependence with technology but also our obsession with the past. And now we view everything with rose colored glasses. How we paint the past with white lies here and there that eventually become our reality. It’s easy to convince yourself you did the right thing in the moment, or tell someone you did the right thing when you didn’t and eventually believing the lord yourself.

Being faced with the untainted truth can shake your very identity and I think this book handles the topic incredibly well.

The ending wasn’t exactly what I wanted - I can appreciate how and why it led to that to point but I think the very last few pages were a little too Easy/Clean. But, I admit I don’t know how I wanted it to end either that I don’t think the ending is BAD. It just wasn’t the one I wanted.

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What an interesting and unique concept based on psychological notions of memory! Suppose you could go back and revisit events that were critical in your life and really know what happened, would you? Sean Whittlesea, the protagonist, has that opportunity and goes back to see what happened in the death of his first wife. A “box” has been developed that allows one to see life as it really happened, not as we remember it. I was very intrigued about the notion of memories and how they change with time and whether or not we can ever really know our own pasts. As a psychologist, I’ve done some teaching on memory and it is intriguing how memories vary in the telling over time. Many people remember “flashbulb” memories like where they were when they first heard about 9/11, but what happens to those more ordinary day-to-day events? Would you want to replay your “true” past? Or would you find out that the past is different than you think? Read this book to see how Sean Whittlesea copes with unexpected truths.

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this book covers so much more than i even thought it would from the synopsis, it’s such an interesting dive into how we as humans perceive the world, and while there is the sci fi element to the story i think it captures really well how much we can forget the mundane aspects of life or even reform our own memories to fit the idea we have of a situation years later. such an interesting and thought-provoking book that covers so many areas, genres, and themes and would probably be even better on a reread.

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This book was just- wow. This book is so well written that it had me thinking about what if we actually had a device/devices like this how much would our life’s change and how much our memories affect our every day life’s. The ending was also very unexpected but in a good way. Overall this book is a 5 star and a must read!

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I couldn't connect with the characters as much as I wanted to. The writing was good but I felt like there wasn't much depth for each individual where I could feel for them - which is something that makes me love reading. Certain areas could have had more explanations and insights to help connect the dots.

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Scarecrow Has A Gun is packed with intrigue and philosophical exploration, diving into the differences between truth and memory. It poses questions like ‘how much does the past shape us?’ Or ‘what if you discovered your past wasn’t what you thought?’ And the answers come in the form of a little black box.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more complete analysis in fiction of the role our memories play. One of the book’s greatest strengths is how much speculation it draws from such a small item as a device which replays memories. At times, it reads like a hybrid of speculative thriller and family drama, but really, it’s a character study of one man’s struggle to come to terms with his past.

The tone is grounded, which is impressive, because some of these characters could step off the pages of the Bond-villain playbook. Yet, the story never strays from the believable.

The prose is clean and easy to read. It’s introspective, delving into the minutiae of life, and at times, the pace can be slow, but this allows room for the book to tackle ambitious themes. There are no laser-battles or explosions to be found here. It’s the relationships between the characters where the fireworks lie. Descriptions linger in the details, but deliberately so, as this feeds into the book’s questions. It succeeds in making you feel like you’re living through things along with Sean, and actually adds a layer of depth here that would be missing otherwise.

Don’t expect the mystery of the book to form its central conflict. You’ll have to wait for the answers, just like Sean. But when they come, they’re worth the wait.

Like the Memory Palace itself, Scarecrow Has A Gun dives deep into the past, searching for truth. For fans of speculative fiction who prefer a contemplative, thoughtful read, this is one to remember.

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A thriller with time and memory at the center? Sign me UP.

The protagonist of Scarecrow Has a Gun, Sean, lost his wife in a home invasion that he can't remember. His employer, a mysterious rich guy with touches of your typical Jeff Bezos/Elon Musk type, hosts a Hunger Games style meeting called the Widow's Club where fellow employees can win new technology that will change their lives (typically, making them rich and powerful and giving them an automatic promotion to the top). When Sean wins a mysterious memory box (a bit like a low functionality apple TV) he gets addicted to seeing his life replayed and noticing new things (and, of course, solving the mystery of who killed his wife).

I struggled with this book because it's very light on the murder mystery and heavy on Sean's memories. There are some interesting takes on memory and the role it plays in our self identity, but there's a lot of missing development and motivation for the other characters that makes them feel more like tropes and less like people. The ending was quite good and redemptive, although I would've felt more invested in it if we'd learned more about the motivations behind Mr. Ulger's actions.

With thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. My opinions are my own, yada yada.

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First and foremost, I absolutely loved this book. Although as a general rule, sci-fi is out of my wheel house, Scarecrow Has a Gun is so well-written that it seemed a natural process to suspend any disbelieve. Author Michael Paul Kozlowsky takes a completely impossible premise, brings it to life as plausible and forces the reader to reassess everything they thought of as tangible and real.

The star of this show is main character Sean Whittlesea, a widower who lost his wife in a violent encounter when his son was still a toddler. Almost twenty years later, we find Sean with a second child and a new love. Although his mind refuses to unlock the details surrounding that fateful day his wife was murdered, he has managed to rebuild his life. It is on the job, however, that Sean is challenged to reassess his reality, as the author forces Sean and the reader to reconsider the accuracy and accountability of “memory”. An involuntary member of the “Widowers’ Club”, Sean is, on a regular basis, forced to participate in sadistic “competitions” from which only one member emerges victorious. While the losers trudge back to their everyday existence, the winner rises through the company ranks, bestowed with new life, new wealth and the ability to fulfill his wildest dreams. When Sean finally finds himself on the winning end of one of these mind-bending challenges, he is presented with a gift—a box that allows him to see, in real time, every moment of his life. What is at first seen as the answer to Sean’s relentless pursuit of the truth regarding his wife’s death quickly morphs into an existential crisis. How much of what we remember is based on reality and how much do we spackle over it, patching the holes with material that we mold to suit our needs?

Kozlowsky creates in Sean Whittlesea an “Everyman” of sorts. Although not all of us experience such profound tragedy, most of us have moments in our lives to which we wish we could return—to see those events again unfold with the benefit of hindsight. Just how accurate are those memories we retain? How much of the minutiae is simply “filled in” by details we remember not in reality but as a result of a need to soften the moment and make us appear more human—more compassionate—more altruistic? These are the questions with which Sean struggles, and in doing so, instills an element of unease in each of us as we examine the entire process of simply “remembering”. It is in author Kozlowsky’s ability to make us turn inward while accompanying Sean on his own journey that the absolute brilliance of this book is grounded.

Incredible character development, a unique and clever plot, and twists the reader won’t see coming make this an early contender for the Best of 2022. Five big gold stars and a thank you to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for the ARC. The expected publication for this book is August of 2022.

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