Gunner McGrath's Reviews > Amontillado

Amontillado by Kevin Koperski
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Nov 25, 12

bookshelves: mystery
Read from November 23 to 24, 2012

For a few years, I was a musician who attained some success, depending on your definition of the word. For those years, music was my entire life and everyone I knew was very aware of exactly what I was up to. After I left that life and pursued a more standard path, my musical history was often just a bit of trivia to my acquaintances, and on the occasions that my new friends would finally hear the music I'd created, or be told of my travels and scattered notoriety, they would express surprise that one of their friends had achieved such things. This reaction would always amuse and flatter me, because I know how skeptical I have often been of other "musician" friends as well, whose creations so often disappointed.

And so I should have known better than to be equally skeptical of a co-worker and friend who revealed to me, many years ago, that he was working on a novel. Maybe it's because for all my own writing, I could never imagine coming up with an original story idea, let alone actually putting the effort into such a large work. Maybe it's just because I'd never been friends with someone who wrote a book before. Whatever the reason, I never expected to see the novel finished, and when it was published, I thought I would read the first couple chapters in secret just to see if I could even make it that far; I certainly did not expect to devour the entire thing in two days.

Amontillado is a murder mystery, a romance, and a tragedy, in equal parts. It is the story of Jacob and Bree, whose marriage has withered to nothing under the pressures of life and art; of Marcus, who sets his calculating and malevolent sights on Bree, and of Daniel, whose devotion to his friends gets him tangled up in more danger than he believes possible. The suspense is carefully cultivated as the story is told, with the characters themselves discussing literature in such a way that it caused me to guess at different possibilities, not only within the realm of what might naturally happen, but what tricks an author might employ in diverting the reader from guessing the truth. And most satisfying, the final resolution does not depend on a clever and contrived twist, but on a natural unfolding of events that nonetheless are not easily figured out.

The biggest compliment I can pay, however, is that this story got me thinking about my own marriage, about choices I've made and what effect they might have had that I was never aware of. There is some great insight tucked away in this story, the kind not concocted on behalf of the characters, but wisdom that the author has learned himself and deftly worked into the story for his readers' benefit.

I have but one complaint about the book, and that is the careful use of language which is quite welcome in the narration, but leaves some of the dialog feeling too scripted. Even with characters who are highly educated lovers of literature, their perfect turns of phrase do not always accurately represent the way most people speak. I wondered for some time whether the setting was modern or historic, but certain references did confirm it to be current. This may simply be the author's style, and it did not bother me much as I got further along, but it was a little off-putting at first, and I'm glad I forgave long enough to give the story itself a chance. I will admit that however unrealistic the voices can be at times, they are awfully fun to listen to.

I cannot remember the last book I read so fervently, and I am proud of my friend for creating such an engaging tale. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or drama.
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Kevin Koperski I'm honored to join the 43,721 other books on your to-read shelf. :)

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