Misty Baker's Reviews > A Smudge of Gray: A Novel

A Smudge of Gray by Jonathan Sturak
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May 30, 12


When I started KO a few years ago I knew no one in the book industry. Authors, publisher and agents were in an entirely different stratosphere than myself. They lived in solitary confinement in areas of the world I was not privy to. They held secret meetings and plotted characters demises behind closed doors.

I would like to chalk this up to being naive and not just plain moronic, but hell…that’s exactly what it was. Moronic.

Since then I have learned a new lesson. Authors, publishers, agents…etc. are just like me. They live in suburban homes, get snappy when they don’t get enough sleep, forget to buy milk and have to trudge back to the store, spend hours on the computer surfing social sites, and drink more coffee than should ever be allowed in any single human body.

Why exactly does this matter?

Well…because a few years ago I met a very delightful man named Jonathan Sturak on Twitter, and since then we have become friends. And, while you may continue reading the review below and conclude that “if this is how I treat my friends you’d hate to see how I treat my enemies,” I assure you that my honesty IS in the interest of a friend. I aim to help, no hinder an author. Especially those I think are working outside of their potential.

“Detective Brian Boise is about to embark on the biggest case of his career. After being thrust into law enforcement on the footsteps of his father, Detective Boise finds himself on the trail of a murder suspect he could never have imagined, the mysterious businessman, Trevor Malloy. Trevor is an irresistible hitman with everything going for him, while Detective Boise is a cutthroat detective going against the grain. These two men, both breadwinners and keystones of their families, play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. They are a contrast of each other and as their game progresses, their worlds contort and the line between black and white blurs.”

*sigh* I’m going to be completely honest with you and say up front that this book irritated the snot out of me. Last year (or maybe the year before…I forget) I read Mr. Sturak’s book “Clouded Rainbow.” It wasn’t my favorite book in the world and I said so in my review. The problem was; Sturak showed impressive “writing” ability (aka character and scene development) but was sorely lacking in the plot department. “A Smudge of Gray” was the exact opposite.

Sturak can no longer claim to be knew to this game, and because of this…his ability to piece together a convincing and even mildly enjoyable work of fiction should have been a no brainer. Unfortunately his writing took a massive step backwards.

What do I mean exactly?

Well, not only did the dialogue and overall narration feel like it was coming out of left field, Sturak made a fatal mistake by over elaborating. (ie: I didn’t need a play by play account of the kids final minutes of a basketball game. It wasn’t relevant.)

I enjoy having the scene set for me. It’s part of the reason I love to read (I can form the picture in my head) but there is a point where miles of strung out adjectives, descriptions and metaphors can get out of hand. This is the point where your novel jumps the shark and you loose readers.

For example:

“Kevin, Jonathan, and Katie ran on the court like three kids in a toy store. Helen focused on the kids, and then ran with them like an alcoholic in a liquor store. Laura and Anne Marie watched like two old maids in a jewelry store.“

Sometime you can have too much of a good thing. This is one of those times.

The story itself also had some pretty severe ups and downs. While I was intrigued by the first several chapters of the novel, at around the 20 or 30% mark the plot became to easy. This was supposed to be a psychological thriller, a genre that is kept alive by twisting it’s characters inside out and throwing a handful of sidebars at the audience to keep their mind active. “A Smudge of Gray” did none of these things. While I will admit that the ending was unexpected (to a point) and the writing finally settled into a grove in the final scenes, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the clues leading up to it’s ending were waaaaay to coincidental and easily hashed out. (AKA my moment of irritation.)

My overall thoughts? It was another good attempt, but still a little short of the mark.

If Sturak finds the time to combine his two varying writing styles he might just take the literary world by storm. Unfortunately…until he gets to that point, all you’ll get is a predictable book with sub-par writing.

Sorry Jonathan. Better luck next time.

Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember:

“Once you become predictable, no one’s interested anymore.” – Chet Atkins.
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