Cover Image: Scarecrow Has a Gun

Scarecrow Has a Gun

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Scarecrow Has a Gun
by: Michael Paul Kozlowsky
Pub. date: August 2, 2022
Review date: November 15, 2021

Many thanks to Imbrifex Books & NetGalley for allowing me access to this arc in exchange for my honest review.
This book is Worthy of a read, whether you’re a fan of sci-fi or not.. I know it’s implied that this is a sci-fi mystery but it’s Most Definitely more mystery than anything else. I recommend Scarecrow Has a Gun. I give three stars.

Was this review helpful?

A Worthwhile Read about the Lies We Tell... Even to Ourselves

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

TL;DR: If you like a good mystery with a steady build and don't need a lot of "crunch" in your sci-fi, this is worth diving into.

* Heavy on the mystery...
* Interesting narrative system
* Steady build to a satisfying end

* ... but light on the sci-fi
* Some secondary characters are very dislikable
* Sentence structure slows the pace of reading

Scarecrow Has a Gun is an interesting story. It examines the idea of memory and forgetting in a way that many sci-fi fans will appreciate. Whereas Philip K. Dick asked 'what would happen if we could provide you with new memories' in We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, Michael Paul Kozlowsky asks 'what would happen if we could provide you with all your old memories.' The uncomfortable truth that this story examines is that eyewitness accounts of events are highly unreliable - even the ones that exist solely in our own heads.

There is a great mystery at the heart of the story. You are dropped in, not quite in media res, but with the same questions and blanks as the narrator about his past and the truth of the Widower's Club. It is a very fun way to have both the reader and character try to uncover more about the plot. When I got to the end I was very happy with the way the book resolved the plot without feeling the need to put a bow on every little mystery and question. Interesting questions are far easier than satisfying answers, and Michael Paul Kozlowsky has the confidence in his primary plot to not gild the lily with forced resolutions of minor questions.

The style of the prose is both a major boon for the story and a serious limitation. The first-person narration helps to really drive the emotion of the story as you both learn and theorize. The entire book reads as a cleaned-up version of stream of consciousness. As the reader, you can truly feel as if you are in the mind of the character. The downside is that the sentence structure that permits this uses an absurd amount of commas and em dashes. It works wonderfully to sound like you are listening to someone's nascent thoughts, but it means that a large amount of the sentences and paragraphs need to be re-read in order to fully digest the idea presented. I found that it was a bit uncomfortable for the about the first chapter or so, then I settled in and accepted it as part of the conceit of the book without it getting in the way too much.

While the book is technically sci-fi, it feels as if the story never needs it to be. There is no hard examination of the math, physics, or engineering behind the items that help drive the plot. It is all what I refer to as "tomorrow tech" - things that are extrapolations of what we have now and would not feel too terribly out of place in a suspense book with the CIA as a major player. Really, this book could be written as an urban fantasy novel with the tech replaced by magic and it wouldn't change anything about the core story. So while it is a fun read, don't expect any "crunch" out of this.

Overall, this is a very good book that I highly enjoyed reading. As a first foray into non-YA fiction, Michael Paul Kozlowsky has made a very impressive showing. I personally will be watching for his next book to read!

Was this review helpful?