Scam! By Stevie Turner
Another cover-to-cover indie. This one because I said I would, and I needed something to read to get out from under some seemingly unending epics. I was not let down.
This is a well-crafted story and, though called a “novella,” it is an appropriate length for a modern fiction work weighing in with a 23.5k word count. It starts out as the story of a young woman who wants her own home so she can get out from under her in-laws and gets scammed out of her down payment savings. At this point it could go moralistic about the consequences of greed and impatience but does not. Instead, once we meet everyone and the scene is set, readers are taken on a surprise ride of consequence(s) far more dire than pissed off and embarrassed over identity theft. I’m going to stop there as far as the story line. Read it and you’ll see.
Any technical issues? Considering the material and the commercial quality of the work, I would say none that got in the way except several pages of a contract I could have done without. I see that stuff, my eyes glaze over I and skip ahead to story. I had issues with certain aspects of the work as regards the character dynamics as well, but to call them out would give the story away, and those issues do not reflect on the quality of the work, but on my preferences. Overall, this is a damn good book, regardless of whether I agree with the characters behavior(s). To get bumped out of my comfort zone and still feel like I read something that was a professionally written, solid story is a good thing.
I said surprised, but I shouldn’t be. And here’s an honest bit of prejudice on my part—I see the author’s subject matter and many of her covers and I think “Wasn’t this an episode of Law and Order? Or maybe a redux of this or that movie?” But they never are. Because the author can take everyday people (characters) and imbue them with humanity and freshness even when treading on what would outwardly appear to be worn ground. No easy feat. Stereotypes and cloning are easy. Believable characters and situations of the everyday world are not. Even Stevie’s bit players ring true. The protagonist’s discomfort with mother-in-law, husband’s laissez-faire assumption of comfort on his home turf—in fact, both sets of family are believable enough to live down the street. Because they aren’t over or under written cartoons.
Technical stuff—This book was edited by Denna Holm. Having read Stevie’s earlier self-edited or beta reader efforts, it was obvious. At least for the first 18% where I don’t recall being ejected, coerced or seduced by substituted dialog tags or adverbs. In fact, it seems all the “getting to it” portion of the book was pretty flawless. After that the adverbs and “replied” “asked” etc. tags kick in, but the structure and dialogue remain sound. There are readers in the world and styles of writing that require some of that, so again, as it wasn’t egregious, no fault, no foul.
The ending made me feel a little pulled up short, like a wedgie. But it was a slice of time novella. An episode. This would make great fodder for a 90-minute pick your Brit detective serial, or better yet, that Welsh thing Thirty-Five Days.
Postscript – There are lines I wish authors would not write, or stop writing, or edit out at the end of chapters or books, but that’s a whole other post.