Title: Larry Boots, Exterminator
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Genre(s): Romantic Suspense
Page Count: 198 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Kenny Long is living a new life. Blinded in an accident, he has taken control of his unexpected reality the best way he can, and it’s working out better than he hoped.
Of course Larry Boots doesn’t know any of that. All he sees is a beautiful man sitting on a park bench.
Larry has a few problems of his own: his mother. His job. The lack of romance in his life.
His job. In the course of that job, Larry strikes up a friendship with Kenny. The next thing he knows, he’s so head-over-heels in love, even his mother doesn’t seem so bad. Of course his career is still a problem, but he’s working on that. Hopefully he’ll have the problem resolved before the man he’s being paid to murder succeeds in murdering him first.
And before the man he loves finds out he’s a cold-blooded killer.
In this story, the author takes a set of mismatched concepts and characters and layers them over a simple sweet romance. It is this disjoint that provides an opportunity to insert humour and lightness into what would otherwise be quite a heavy and judgemental theme. This is carried out effectively and the reader has little struggle balancing the two sides to the book. To do this of course, it is necessary to suspend judgement on the morality of the acts and to condone them based on righteousness, hence become party to vigilantism. There is a choice here, either empathise with the acts performed or accept that this is fiction and treat it as such.
Characterisation is good and though not the most memorable of the author’s characters, they are well structured and believable. The lead character has the most layers and yet he is the most basically drawn. Secondary characters provide the backdrop to the story and reflect a far wider spectrum of emotions and reactions. Humour and tension are balanced through the interactions within scenes.
There is a natural tension not only between the two aspects of the lead character’s life but also in the acts that he performs. The antagonists are bleakly painted; there is no flexibility here in terms of rationality for their acts. The plot is written such that this has to be made clear before the situation is resolved. Even when there is a subtle hint that there is a motive or justification, the wrongdoer undermines their words and actions.
Descriptions of context matches the mood and as such provides a support to whatever is happening at the time, as such there is nothing that seems out of place. Clearly, the story is constructed around a specific premise and all is handled delicately to allow this to happen.
The relationship between the two leads is unlikely and yet works well. The disability is described well but is as irrelevant to the plot as it is to characters. This provides a secondary theme of the book and is as unusual in its lack of exploration as the morality of the central theme. It seems clear that the author presents disability and extreme vigilantism as points of view. The pivotal point of the story is where these themes collide.
The interactions between the central characters are sweet without being cloying and the relationship is formed without development, as there is a natural affinity between the two. The moments of passion are described well but do not dominate the plot
Given that there are scenes of different natures, the pace of the story follows the needs of the plot. There is a general inertia and the quality of the writing is such that it keeps the reader’s interest and draws them along. The points of highest tension are not drawn out excessively although there are a few twists to stop the reader from second-guessing. Nevertheless, the denouement is quite predictable.
The story is resolved through an epilogue that ties up loose ends quite neatly. That this is done without a backward glance reinforces that this is fiction. The reader is not left to form judgement on what has happened as a line is drawn under what has gone before.
This was a good read which has interesting themes. It is not the strongest of the author’s works but is one of the best offering a darker theme.