Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Jericho's Fall

Jericho's Fall by Stephen L. Carter
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Jericho trips, stumbles, and falls flat on his face in this non-thrilling, confusing "thriller"

NOTE: I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program

Another thriller choice from Vine!
Once upon a time, Jericho Ainsley was a former Intelligence director and Secretary of Defense before he became a professor and wooed Rebecca "Beck" DeForde, a nineteen year old college student. Now, fifteen years later, he is near his death bed and assured someone is out to kill him. Pamela and Audrey, his daughters, and Rebecca gather with him in his last days and try to determine: is Jericho imagining the danger or is there a shred of truth to his claims?

I Liked:
While I never bonded to any one of the characters, I found them fairly well done. Rebecca is a pretty real character, with fears, shortfalls, and abilities (though she still aggravated me, see below). In the same way, Pamela has her strengths (being stalwart in the face of crisis) yet weak (unable to forgive Rebecca) and Audrey has hers. It makes the story go well if you can believe that the people who are starring in it are capable of doing what the author has them do.
The writing style, on the whole, was easy to read and enjoyable. The author was clearly good at writing.
Certain "thrilling" aspects were well-done: having the cellphone go off intermittently and in spite of being in a dead zone, the death of the dog, having certain characters know about Rebecca's daughter.
The last about 30 pages were truly edge of your seat action, and I hurried to finish the book, to find out "whodunnit".

I Didn't Like:
My biggest complaint about this book and the reason it loses so many stars is one of the basic components of the story, Rebecca's arrival at Stone Heights, makes absolute no sense. Rebecca (who is more often denoted by her odd nickname "Beck", making her sound like a guy) had a year-long fling with Jericho fifteen years ago when she was only nineteen; and yet, despite remembering frequently (i.e. once or more per chapter) how she hated what he did, how she tried to leave numerous times and how miserable her time with Jericho was, she travels across the country, leaving her daughter, to visit this man before he dies. Why? Does she still have lingering feelings for him? Did she make a promise to him? Did she want to make amends? Did she have any skills in investigating? Well, I, who read the entire book through, have no clue (heck, the protagonist has no clue!). So we have a woman who appears in the middle of Colorado to meet a man she hasn't seen in fifteen years...for no other reason than this is the person the author wanted as the protagonist (and without her, there would be essentially no story).
One of the other frustratingly annoying aspects was the repetitive nature of the book. The entire outline I can easily sum it up as follows:
1. Rebecca has a conversation with someone.
2. Repetitive exposition and/or confusion.
3. Someone asks if she is leaving on X day.
4. Rebecca says she is.
5. Someone says that is a good idea.
6. Rebecca remembers her one year relationship fifteen years ago to Jericho (most likely negatively).
7. Rebecca doesn't have a clue what is going on or where things are going.
8. Something slightly thrilling happens.
9. Rebecca does nothing.
10. Repeat ad nauseum.
A thriller should build in intensity until you cannot set it down. It should keep you on the edge of your seat, keep you wondering what will happen next, if the protagonist will survive, so you end up finishing it at 2am in the morning. The only time I couldn't put the book down was the last twenty pages, in part due to wanting to write this review. In my opinion, that doesn't make this a very good so-called "thriller".
The author, in trying to write a complex novel and appear insanely clever, completely lost me so many times, with all the betrayals, all the sides, all the people who have their own agendas, all the times that people point a gun at Rebecca (I gave up counting) that I threw up my hands and quit trying to understand what the hell was going on. Even after finishing the novel, I still have no clue who was after Jericho and why. Was it the financial angle or the national security angle? The best answer I have is "Yes", which, for a thriller, is pathetic. A thriller shouldn't be so confusing that it befuddles its readers into submission.
There was a part of Rebecca I didn't like. Firstly, Rebecca waltzes in, expecting Pamela to have totally forgiven her for Rebecca's relationship with Jericho and welcome her with open arms. While I can understand that 15 years passed, I would find it more unbelievable if the older Pamela did forgive Rebecca for Rebecca's relationship with Jericho. Also, Rebecca is a pretty dim-witted woman. She blames never getting a degree on Jericho, when she could have easily returned to college (of course, she wouldn't have been able to lose herself in drugs). She isn't incredibly smart, asking the same questions multiple times.
The other really challenging part for me some might consider a spoiler. So, you've been warned:

SPOILER!
The reader is left to believe that Rebecca hasn't seen Jericho in fifteen years, which turns out to be a lie. Rebecca saw Jericho earlier, and it is insinuated that he is the biological father of Nina, Rebecca's daughter.
END

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Very tame for the genre. Da**, he** primarily. One or two f-bombs.
Rebecca and Jericho had an affair. Jericho also invites her to bed him. Jericho and Rebecca have had other relations.
A dog is shot. Pamela and Rebecca clean up the remains. Jericho is near death. Jericho uses brutal tactics in interrogating.

Overall:
This is no thriller. Thrillers should keep you on the edge of your seat and make you want more, should not overly confuse you with exposition and random details, and should at least make it clear why the protagonist is even there. This book didn't do any of the above. So while it was pretty easy to read and had a good story concept, I can't give it any more than 2 stars.
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