Only the Strong Survive Book Review

Only the Strong Survive Book Review
A.J. Riccio

Title: Only the Strong Survive – A Jay Stock Mystery
Published: December 13, 2013
No. of Pages: 121
Cover Price: $2.99 US (Kindle)

In his first novel, Only the Strong Survive, author A.J. Riccio, tells the story of Jay Stark, a private detective, who gets a message to meet his partner and best friend, Harry Dane, at a local comedy club. While there he sees Harry with a beautiful blonde, who subsequently murders him. He and Harry have been working on a case at the racetrack involving the theft of Greyhounds, so Jay meets with the owner, Mr. McMillan. Jay finds that the murder and the racetrack case are connected, and works to solve both cases.

It seems that Jay finds danger throughout the course of the novel, and his life seems to be always on the line. There are also numerous subsequent murders. The factual information regarding Greyhound racing is fascinating, and, although readers may not have much knowledge in the industry of dog racing, the scenarios ring true. There is also information on animal rights, and one of the characters, Penny Logan, is an activist; Jay falls in love with her, and together they try to find clues.

Jay Stark, the protagonist, needs some development, especially if he is going to star in subsequent novels. His character is almost surreal, and readers know nothing of his background, likes, dislikes, etc. There are hints throughout, but he is quite mysterious, and readers won't really know whether to like him or trust him. While the story is interesting and grabs immediately, the main problem is that there are approximately 716 grammatical, punctuation, and usage errors in the first third of the novel (an English major, I had to quit marking or I would have gone crazy). A professional editor or an English 101 class is absolutely necessary for this to become a mainstream novel and series. Readers will need to be warned that if proper writing is important to them, they may want to skip this novel. It's just like hiring an architect who has never even heated a can of soup to design a gourmet kitchen – the architect will not have the knowledge and expertise to do the job. Ricci, while a great storyteller, apparently does not yet have the skills to write in the formal manner necessary for a novel.

While the novel itself is quite enjoyable, those who read several novels a week and others who review novels, will struggle to read Only the Strong Survive without marking every error. Formal writing is very different from speaking, and this novel reads more like the transcript of a conversation rather than a novel.

All told, this series has promise, due to the excellent storytelling skills of the author. It is a fast read, but more information could be added on the main character, and a major editing project needs to be undertaken before a new version is published. There are surprises at the end, and one scenario is left unsolved, which may be by design so there will be something to solve in a subsequent novel, but it is there nonetheless and readers would most likely feel better if there were a resolution.

A review copy of this book was sent by the author requesting a fair and honest review.

This book may be purchased at Amazon: Only the Strong Survive

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