by John L. Monk
I may be unique in the universe, but after 2 years of not being able to read due to an illness, my return to the world of books included a complete change in the way I select material. Many readers stick to their list of known authors. I did that for a long time. If a Grisham, King, Cook, Clark, hit the stands, that was who I read. This is fine, but now that indie authors have many ways to get their work out to the public, sticking to known authors is a disservice to yourself, and some pretty talented people who didn’t necessarily get a big break from publishing companies.
I also no longer stick to genres. In my younger days, I was post-apocalypse (before it suddenly became the “in” thing), medical and legal thrillers and some real life crime drama. I still like that stuff, but I’ve learned that if I’m willing to take a chance, there is a huge selection of material out there. I don’t even read the back of a book to see what the story is about. I will admit, shallowly, to judging by a cover. If it’s a beauty, I’m drawn to it.
Finally, given that I’m now living on the income of a retired person (despite still being “youthful”), my book habit could become costly. I’ve had some luck winning books via twitter, Facebook and blogs and this has been a fun and interesting way to find new authors without breaking the bank. And, in case you are a new author and wondering if a contest is worth the time and effort – it is. I have several writers who I discovered this way and I’ve gone on to buy print and Audible versions of more of their work. I likely would not have known about them unless I stumbled onto a contest.
So, why was that preamble part of the review for “Kick” by John L. Monk? I won this through https://audiobookreviewer.com/ which is an awesome resource if you like audio books. They sent me a signed (my fangirl heart loves this) paperback as well as the Audible version of “Kick.” This review was not required for the contest, and I have only read the book, not yet listened to it.
When I opened the pages, and started reading this first person narrative, I actually stopped. Then I went to the back of the book and read the description. And sighed. And thought, oh no what have you gotten yourself into?? Here’s part of the back cover:
They say suicides are damned for eternity. But if possessing the bodies of violent criminals is Hell, then Dan Jenkins will take it. And he does, every time a portal arrives to whisk him from his ghostly exile in limbo.
Dan rides the living like a supernatural jockey…..For three weeks at a time, it’s a chance to relax and watch movies, read fantasy novels, and have random conversations with perfect strangers.
This story seemed so far out of my comfort zone, I didn’t know if I could push through. If I hadn’t won this and if it hadn’t had very thoughtful notes from the author and Audible narrator, I would likely have put this aside to be attempted once more at a later date. But, my guilt that the author himself sent a sweet note, kept me going. And going. And going. Until suddenly I realized – I am LOVING this book. I was floored that Monk got me with his writing style. The guy is funny. He writes a funny character dealing with very odd situations that (I hope) could not actually happen.
Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I was struck by how similar the idea of the plot was to Quantum Leap starring Scott Bakula, but was also completely different from that show’s premise. Dan seems to be tasked by some unknown entity which he refers to as the Great Whomever, to right some moral wrongs among living bad guys. He transports into the bodies of very bad people, lives their life for 3 weeks, but doesn’t live those lives in the manner they would. He attempts a sort of redemption for their behavior and acts as karma enabling police to arrest these guys, or perhaps acting as judge and executioner.
“Kick” includes several jumps between characters, so the story moves very quickly. These changes of identity also allow Monk to craft some very creative situations, and demonstrate his ability to make the reader laugh despite death, murder, BAD smells, poverty or obscene wealth.
As I was reading the story, I could very easily see it on the large screen and would be unsurprised to hear some day that Monk sold the rights to a production company. I was pleased to also discover this previously unknown to me author has published 5 books, including two more in this Jenkins Cycle series. I will be back to read more.
STATE CHALLENGE – the book took place in several parts of the US, but the final character, and my favorite character, lived in Virginia, so that’s where I’m placing this one on my map.