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Scarecrow Has a Gun

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This is a book of multiple genres including murder, thriller and sci fi. It is very different in so far as it explores and let's you re-live your memories.
Sean Whittlesea is a member of The Widowers Club run by his eccentric boss. Tasks are regularly set by his boss with the winner promised untold riches and promotion within the company. Whittlesea was ready to give up on it when it was his turn to win. His prize was a small black box called The Memory Palace. When attached to him via a couple of probes to his head he could sit and watch his life on a TV screen. Having previously witnessed the murder of his wife which he could not remember the details of, he hoped to go back to that day to see just what actually happened.
Personally I found this book quite slow as it brought up memories from his childhood through to more recent times. It did become intriguing when memories were shown that maybe he didn't want to see. It also showed how poor decisions could influence your life later.
Although slow this book did build to an interesting crescendo and an ending that I couldn't have predicted.
I was out of my comfort zone with this book although would still recommend it to anyone who leans more towards the sci-fi.
Having received an ARC of this book I've written an honest review

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Nothing is real. That was all I could think as I retreated from her room. Life could not be accurately reproduced. Not in photographs, not on video, not in memory. Real life came around once, and we had to catch it while it was taking place; otherwise, it was distorted. We were distorted. The only truth was in the box.”

This book had me hooked from the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed following Sean and his memories through the black box, but I loved his character development by the end. Sean is a widow, newly engaged, with two children. Nick is an angsty teen who never met his biological mother, and Lucy is the sweetest five year old. Hayley is Lucy’s mother and Sean’s fiancée. Their family story is a whole other story of this book that is simply beautiful.

Sean wins a game hosted by his boss. He wins a black box that allows him to see his memories. This is where the book takes a really awesome turn. It bounces between Sean’s memories, the story’s plot line, and philosophy. I love the analysis of the fallacies of our memories throughout the book. I had to stop and contemplate what I read multiple times!

I LOVED every minute of it!!

Since reading, I keep wondering if I would want to relive memories clearly as they were and not just my perception at the time, or if perception and timing is a blessing of present life. Should the past be left there? Would it be cool to analyze your past?

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This is a clever murder mystery dressed up with a bit of sci-fi and an interesting take on the unreliability of memory. It meanders a good deal and often drags on well after an intended plot point has been established. The characters are generally unlikable, which makes the draggy parts feel even draggier. All of that said, the premise and the progress of the story will keep a reader hooked, and the wrap up is satisfying.

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As someone who has a terrible memory, this book was intriguing. I started it thinking I would LOVE to have a little black box that would show me all of my memories. There are so many moments in my life that I have no recollection of. Days I wish I could remember, even just fragments, but there's nothing.

Upon finishing this book, I decided that maybe ignorance is bliss.

Memory can be a tricky thing, and just because you remember something happening one way doesn't mean that's how it ACTUALLY happened. It's called the 'Mandala Effect' (google it, it's pretty interesting), and it affects most people.

While I found the subject matter of this book to be interesting, I didn't really like any of the characters, and that made reading this a bit of a chore. There's something about Sean, our protagonist, that rubbed me the wrong way. I can't put my finger on it, but I never took to him. His fiance, Haley, is a shrew, and even when Kozlowsky tries to paint her as a victim and garner some sympathy for her, I just didn't care. I was hoping Sean would leave her the whole time.

Mr. Ulger, Seans' mysterious boss, stays that way...mysterious. He felt unfinished as we're never told how he gained his wealth and all these amazing prototypes that he gives to the winners of the Widower competitions, or even why he holds these competitions in the first place! There's no rhyme or reason to them either. He may hold a challenge 3 times in one month, then nothing for 6 months. Why? What made him require a widower at those specific times? And what became of them all besides wealth, health, and power?

I found the mystery of the story (who killed Seans' first wife, Gwen), predictable and uninteresting, even though it should have been the most interesting part of the story. I correctly guessed who killed her, just not the how/why, which felt reaching. What was the motivation? Especially since
there was a 17-year gap between her murder and Sean finally winning the challenge!

Overall, while the memory aspect of the story was really interesting and thought-provoking, the characters were (IMO) unlikable and thinly characterized. While the ending was satisfactory, there are so many unanswered questions, the biggest of all being WHY. Why does any of this take place to begin with? What's in it for Ulger? How does he make these widowers rich and powerful, and WHY?

This is definitely a niche story that will appeal to a very specific kind of reader and, while I recommend it for those readers, just be aware that all your questions will not be answered at the end.

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<b> Memory is a peculiar thing. </b>

I, for one, have wondered multiple time at how true and trustworthy our memories are. When I was younger, I kept having reocurring dreams, that came true in one form or another years later. I've also had various different and really weird or unexplainable déjà-vu's in my life too, which at the time freaked me out a lot.

This novel explores that very concept:
<i> "Are we the lives that we live, or are we our memories?" </i>

Maybe it was because I could relate to the protagonist's experiences and views on the ideas of what memory is, or maybe because of the ideas the author tried to convey, but I really liked this. The mystery was intriguing, and the writing style flowed really well. It didn't feel like a debut or drafted work at all.

This story kept me hooked, from beginning to end. And it made me think, about lots of things, but mainly about my sense of nostalgia when thinking about silly things from my past, and also my occasional existential dread.

The only thing that I would say was lacking, was the ending. It left me feeling a bit unsatisfied, and I think it all happened too fast and too easily, if that makes sense?
On the other hand, I can see why the author chose to end it this way, especially after reading the Author page. It feels more like a journey of acceptance for our main protagonist, rather than a thriller-mystery of who the bad guy is (Like what I expected at the beginning of the book)

I would say this is definitely worth to check out when it comes out in August 2022!

<b> PS </b> If you want to know what the title refers to, it's quite an interesting subject that has many theories around it. I suggest you read the book to find out ;)

<i> Huge thanks to Imbrifex Books and Netgalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for a honest review! </i>

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<i>Scarecrow has a gun</i> is a murder mystery with the science fiction bent. Sean Whittlesea lives on the verge of depression because he witnessed the murder of his wife but can’t remember the details. He has a new wife and child but continues struggling to live a normal life. <i>Scarecrow has a gun</i> is the debut adult novel written by children book author Michael Paul Kozlowsky.

The story opens with a number of men entering a contest that’s only open to widowers. Sean Whittlesea’s employer, Archibald Ulger III, asks these men to do a life altering exercise where the winner will become a lead employee under the mentorship of Mr. Ulger. After many tries Sean wins and receives a machine that helps him recall his memories quite vividly. The machine actually starts to occupy Sean‘s life to the point where he neglects his family and his primary goal becomes trying to find out how his ex-wife was murdered. Sean floats between sanity and insanity thinking that his memories are being altered and someone is watching him all of the time. Will he be able to discover who murdered his wife or will he slowly go insane before he finds his answers?

The story is interesting because it has a different twist. The use of the mind machine to recall memories and how it over takes Sean‘s life and eventually what he discovers is all very interesting. The twist is unexpected and interesting for the reader. However, I think the story becomes too laden in detail when he starts to talk about his memories. We spend a lot of time looking through Sean’s boring memories. He then starts to talk about issues that he deals with in these memories. It all seems to be quite detailed and very dry in some points.

I feel that the characters aren’t as compelling as they could be. We don’t learn much about Sean‘s boss who is responsible for a lot of Sean’s problems. We also don’t learn or understand why Mr. Ulger goes through a number of body alterations. As well, we don’t meet very many of the other people who win the competition and how they benefit. Overall, there are a lot of unknowns in the character development and the role of these characters.

I might recommend this to people who are interested in a science of memory recall and how they can affect us. I give this book at 2 on 5 simply because I don’t find it compelling or interesting. I want to think NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for providing me with a digital copy of this novel. I give this review voluntarily

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That was... weird. Really weird. And also really amazing and somewhat aggravating and full of some seriously odious characters.

The concept here is marvelous and there are a lot of absolutely brilliant insights and thought-provoking tidbits - including the explanation of the title. Memory and reality as concepts lend themselves to a stream-of-consciousness-ish style, and while it takes some getting used to as far as reading, it does produce some fantastic writing. There are intriguing trains of thought and a lot of meandering realizations that come out in dialogue and monologue, and I really enjoyed those.

The characters were a challenge for me, though... They were seriously unlikable on the whole and made it very difficult to empathize on nearly all fronts. They also felt oddly flat, given the topic. I could never quite tell if it was intentional and that made for an odd dissociation.

The book does drag a bit and I did skim some in the middle - it felt like it needed a strong-handed editor to tighten things up at several points - but I was curious enough throughout to want to see how it would all end. I found the ending an odd mix of satisfying and disappointing. It happened very quickly and a bit too tidily, but it (mostly) worked.

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If you have the sudden urge to spend a couple of days hashing out the philosophical questions surrounding your memory, how it's perceived by you versus other people, and how a not quite accurate memory can affect you, you're in luck: there's tons of that in this book. If you prefer to have those questions asked, but not in a drill to the center of the earth way, and to read a science fiction novel (as this is also categorized) wrapped around this, you may be slightly disappointed. I was.

First, the length. This book would have worked much better as a novella, in my opinion. There are pages in the book that could have easily been jettisoned, as they were a bit echo-ey of things already discussed, and it caused a drag in multiple places.

Second, the premise: our protagonist Sean works as a drone in a large, nameless company doing some kind of video/graphic production. Is this important? It could have been, if there was some exploration of how Sean, with a graphic-centered life at work, may have been able to remember things more accurately than someone without that focus. This was not explore, however.

The precise: There is a group of employees of this company called The Widowers Club, summoned once a year to the boss' office. All members of the group, as the name describes, are men. I'm not sure why Mr. Ulger, the boss, only selected men for his little games, where he would tell the group to perform some inane stunt - running through a glass window, for instance.

One year, Sean, who has been summoned for several years but who has never "won", actually does win. His prize is a box contraption with two lines that attach to the temples. This box then shows the memories of the person hooked to it. Sean has been trying his hardest to remember an attack that leaves his wife dead and Sean unable to recall the exact events surrounding the attack. Now is his chance, but he finds what he remembers doesn't jibe exactly with what the machine is telling him. My question: why does he simply assume that Ulger is telling him the truth and the machine is more accurate than what he himself remembers?

The rest of the book proceeds with Sean trying to get to the bottom of the attack, discovering along the way that nearly all his memories have that same unsettling wrongness about them. We also meet his fiancee Hayley is entirely unlikable, and his son not much better. There's also a female crossing guard with some serious issues. I get that she's meant as a sort of humor device, given the inappropriate things she says and the gossip she dishes, but she comes across as annoying and doesn't serve as much of a break from the overall rather dense story.

Eventually Sean makes it to the truth of his wife's death, and there's an ending that seems rather far-fetched, given Ulger's penchant for knowing absolutely everything Sean is doing.

There's a real lack of the science fiction component, as it isn't clear just how the box works, or really anything about it, other than it's the type of science fiction that exists just because. That is, it's like warp speed in virtually any science fiction: it is simply something that exists in this universe, and doesn't require many pages of explanation. I would have liked something, though, even just a little. A good example of how something exists in a universe without going on for many chapters about it is the Epstein drive in The Expanse books.

The philosophical question is interesting, but in this particular book it really brought things to a halt when I hit some of the denser pages of that discussion. I'd have liked to have seen some discussion of how Ulger saw this as a way to make whoever used the machine wealthy beyond belief - this wasn't really explained, since the machine only looks backwards, not forward (so one might invest in an invention or company one might remember reading news about, only to find with a forward-looking machine that said invention or company was a bonafide winner, and one might invest in the thing/company in their current moment in the timeline, for instance). It's easier to believe Ulger when he talks about mind control, as the machine could be programmed to serve up the memories Ulger wanted someone to believe about their past memories.

Overall, I'm rather neutral about the book, so it's three stars out of five from me.

Thanks to Imbifrex Books and NetGalley for the reading copy.

Expected publication date: August 2022.

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This book is a total mind-f**k. It was brilliant, grabbed me from the first, and held me as I went on this helter skelter decent into the poor characters life. The ending was totally unexpected, and I found myself coming away totally satisfied (a rare thing at an end of a book.) It is a must read!

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I had some reservations about this book when I looked at the cover. It didn't exactly knock my socks off, but the title was intriguing enough to make me want to know what lay between the covers.

It's true: don't judge a book by its cover. Once you start reading the book, you realise what the significance of the vague black object on the cover is, and also where the title 'Scarecrow Has A Gun" comes from.

Sean Whittlesea works at a boring job. What is interesting about his workplace, however, is that his boss has formed a Widower's Club that Sean is also a part of. Every year, there is a contest, or ceremony, if you will, where these men are given a task to complete, and whoever completes it first is made wealthy and successful beyond their imagination. This is facilitated by Sean's boss, Mr. Ulger, who provides the winners with technology from the future that changes their lives for the better.

Sean wins this contest one year and is given a gift to try out for a couple of weeks. This gift, The Memory Palace, enables Sean to re-live his memories and see whatever he had missed out on before.

Sean goes down the rabbit-hole of past memories, but they seem different somehow, not the way he remembers them. Are his memories of what happened faulty, or is the Memory Palace playing games with his mind?

In his quest to discover how his wife died (since he can't remember a thing), will he destroy everything that he has currently (a new partner and his kids) to uncover a mystery from the past? Will his obsession with the Memory Palace leave him a wreck, broken in mind and health?

Does Mr. Ulger have an ulterior motive for helping him out? What does he want in return? Once Sean discovers the truth about his wife's death, will it heal him or destroy him even further?

Even though it is pitched as Sci-Fi, it just skims the very surface of it. I believe it's more of a book about the nature of memory and the way we perceive and interpret it, and the importance we assign to certain memories, even letting some of them define who we are as individuals.

But what if the memories that you have and the truths that you believe in are actually not what happened? Does that mean that your whole life is a lie, and that you have been making decisions and looking at the world based on one particular version or interpretation of an event that may not have even occurred that exact way?

Sean was not exactly a firm and resolute character. He was too insecure and guilty after Gwen's (his wife) death, and not assertive enough as a father and as a partner. I found his fiancee, Hayley, absolutely dislikable. She was always upset and nagging and finding fault, so needy and insecure herself, such a nasty piece of work, and her treatment of his son was just not right.

Overall, I gave it 4 stars because, though I didn't buy the bit about Mr. Ulger tracking Sean for years and years of his life, it was an engrossing read (especially the beginning), it had an interesting premise without being too science-y, I found the reference to "Scarecrow Has a Gun" in the book (so interesting), and also, I LOVE PAYBACK! Take that, Mr. Ulger!

Thanks to Imbifrex Books and Netgalley who sent me an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Often times, when I pick up a sci-fi book it is not what I expect it to be from reading the synopsis. This is usually fine, but I ended up DNFing this book just because it doesnt have chapters. im sorry, but my brain needs a stopping point. Maybe they will be added before this is published.

Thanks to Netgalley and the oublishers for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a really weird book and I had a hard time connecting with it. After about the 1/4 mark, the story just felt like it was being dragged out with more of the same over again. I think it might have been better as a long short-story or short novella than a novel-length book. Going by Goodreads star ratings I give it a 1 just because I didn't like it.

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A creative journey about memories and how they shape our current reality. The theme of memories and what is real vs what we create in our minds is so fascinating to unravel as the story follows Sean the main character through his life post trauma of his wife’s murder.

The murders who, what, why and how keeps you turning the pages to get to the truth of what happened and who killed her. The magic black box adds an element of suspense throughout. This is made to be a movie, the writing is really good and really creates visual scenes in your mind while reading. It’s as if you’re reading about a story you already know because the writing is so descriptive and encompassing. A page turner of mystery, suspense and thought provoking a story that keeps you guessing. I really loved the theme and the story overall the ending left me a little underwhelmed as I was wanting for something a little more dynamic less predictable. It’s a great read and can’t wait to see who picks up the option for the screen.

I did not connect title to story felt like the title could be reworked.

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“Our marks stick to no page. There is no reproduction, no correct translation.”

The story starts from the blank standpoint of Sean’s life. How his corporation works and what the Widower’s Club is all about. It plays out and we learn along side him as the story progresses. A bit of sci-fi, a bit of mystery, and a bit of deep thinking and put it all together and you have “Scarecrow Has A Gun”

Can we trust our own memories? The basis of the plot to this new YA book looking into our own memories and if we can’t trust them can we trust anything? Sean went through the horrible tragedy of losing his wife under traumatic circumstances, although he can’t remember anything about it. Since moving on and forward it still lives there in the back of his mind. What happened? Did he do enough? Who acted to change his life?

While reading this book my own mind wondered pondering how do we actually remember? Is it a picture for picture of a certain place, time, or event? Do we remember everything on our own or are most of our memories just influenced by others interpretations of those said events? Most of these questions are so open ended that they can’t rationally be answered easily. I love books that make you think and stop reading to think and then continue thinking and adapting those thoughts as you read. This is definitely a book I will continue to think of for a long time.

I would have liked more of the sci-fi aspect of the story and would love even a follow up into how things worked. Having said that it did not impact my experience at all while reading. I really did love this story and concept, it’s refreshing to read something with an original idea.

Thank you so much NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for sending me this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Scarecrow Has a Gun
by Michael Paul Kozlowsky
Pub Date 02 Aug 2022 | Archive Date Not
Never trust other people's memories, and watch out for your own

Makes one wonder about are memories of what you believe or are they less /more. It is definitely a mystery with sci-fi and some real thoughts to ponder. How our memory remembers grief, happiness and the black box has him confused. The ending is wild. Good, get you some of this deep read.

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What an original and captivating sci fi read! Not only did it really make me think about memories and how they affect us, I was eager to see where it would all lead to and itching to get to the big reveal. I did crack a couple of the puzzles but I was only scratching the surface as there were reveals upon reveals. I totally loved the real life references and often found myself so intrigued I had to then go search for confirmation and further information. Things really ramped up towards the end and I was glued to the text. I enjoyed the dark undercurrent and found the ending deeply satisfying as well as super clever.

I received this arc from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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A bit slow at first, but the story did pick up in pace in the second half of the book, going deeper and deeper into the plot. The main thing that mostly kept me going was Gwen's death. In a way, it reminded me of a scifi book in its way of examining memory and forgetting. I was quiet satisfied in the way everything wrapped up, without needing to answer EVERY LITTLE mystery posed. Overall, a great read!

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Scarecrow Has A Gun is Michael Paul Kozlowsky’s first adult novel. Set to publish on August 2, 2022, this novel is a perfect mix of multiple genre such as mystery, thriller, science fiction and fantasy.

Ever since the death of his wife, Gwen, Sean Whittlesea has been on a hopeless search for the killer. Sean had no recollection of what really happened that night but he was sure he was there. This lost memory of his won’t let his mind rest. A new woman and two kids later, Sean is finally ready to put the past behind him and move on.

After years of entering contest hosted by his boss, Mr. Ulger, by chance or coincidence, that year Sean had won the challenge. He took his prize home with him, the Memory Palace, a black box that’s magically relive his memories and playing it out on a screen. He soon find out that the answer to all of his questions were all in there.

This has been an entertaining read! It was kind of boring and slow at first but thankfully the story picked up pace as the more chapter in, proved to delve deeper into the plot. The mystery surrounding Gwen’s death and those unexpected humours were what kept me going.

This is a voluntary review in exchange for the e-ARC I received. This is also my first ARC novel by a male author. I’m truly grateful to the NetGalley team and the publisher for the chance. Thank you.
#ScarecrowHasaGun #NetGalley

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Thank you Imbrifex Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I really loved the theme of this book which delved into our memories and how they affect our lives. There was a good mystery as well that had a very satisfying resolution. Sometimes the story dragged a little. Most of the characters are unlikeable, even little Lucy. However, the idea that our memories are not always how it happened and that we forget so much of the mundane times of our lives really made me think about all MY memories. I was impressed with this book.

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This was a different type of book for me. This is one of those books where it starts out slow, picks up the pace and kind of goes slow again. It's about this guy who cannot remember the night of his first wives murder and he so badly wants to know. In comes his boss who says he can make that happen. This story was really full of surprises. My jaw literally fell when I read who the actually culprit was. The only thing negative that I could say about this book is that I could have done without all the descriptions of each character. I feel as though time was spent on characters who had nothing to do with the story. Without me giving away any spoilers, I'd say that I would recommend this book. It's kind of fantasy, mystery/thriller. If you're into these types of genres, give it a go.

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