A Jesus Spares Mystery
by Andy Straka
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Pub Date 19 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 07 Jul 2022
Murder sees double when former pro bowler Billy Gills finds himself summoned to the Partridgeberry County morgue to identify the body of his identical twin brother Bo. Billy is the proprietor of Split City Lanes, a classic hometown bowling alley, located in the charmingly rundown, lakeside town of Twin Strikes.
Partridgeberry and Twin Strikes are peopled by a hearty band of oddball characters—an unlikely setting for murder. But Bo is the founder of TreadBo, a successful specialty bowling shoe manufacturer; he is famous for his quirky sense of fashion, fitness fanaticism, and unusual hobbies, which may have gotten him into trouble. Not to mention, Billy has some demons of his own to slay. Fortunately, Split City Lanes is also home to "Jesus Spares", a church service, bowling, and social gathering where almost anything can happen.
Billy may need every ounce of faith he has to discover the truth about himself and his eccentric twin brother.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 3 members
Note: Thank you to NetGalley and Carpenter's Son Publishing/Clovercroft Publishing for an advance reading copy and a chance to provide an honest review of this book. This review will appear on bambooreadingblog.wordpress.com, as well as goodreads, closer to release date.
From the publisher: “Murder does a double take in the Catskills when former pro bowler Billy Gills is summoned to the county morgue to verify the identity of his identical twin brother Bo’s body.”
First off, it was nice to read a book with a ten-pin bowling theme. This was a refreshing change. The genre can be described as amateur sleuth.
My first impressions here were great. The characters are introduced interestingly, and the pacing starts off well.
The reader’s curiosity is piqued at the outset, and I was pleased to see this kept up throughout at least the first half or three quarters of the book. Perhaps it moved a little quickly for my liking toward the end. In this case I felt the book could have benefited from being slightly longer allowing for a deeper resolution. The closing chapter stood out.
There are a lot of great characters in Split City, and for some of them, Straka has explored them quite well for a book of this genre, especially those of Billy and Bo Gills. Their sibling rivalry and Billy’s thoughts about it carry throughout the novel.
The antagonists are also well done here. There were one or two characters which I wanted to feature more strongly however the focus turned to the plot as the book went on. The front cover of the book indicates this book may form part of a series, so I’m keen to see more from these characters, including the love interests.
The plot setting is also well executed. Patridgeberry County in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York is home to the Split City bowling alley. It wasn’t a forgettable setting and didn’t go unnoticed, which overall adds to the realism of the novel. The struggles of running a family business in the small county hits home and many readers may relate.
There are some similarities between the author and the main character of the novel, which I found interesting. This includes love for bowling running through his family and may have inspired the novel. So, the bowling scenes, and associated competitive spirit are captured descriptively in this novel.
In closing, would rate this book 3.2/5. Its an enjoyable, fast read, with great characters and an enticing overall plot. It leaves me curious about other novels by Straka, which is a good sign.