By Robert Gregory Browne
Penname Press/Braun Haus Media
The quote on the cover of Robert Browne’s new book Trial Junkies says, “A mystery I dare you to solve.” Well, I always love a challenge, especially when it comes to solving a mystery.
Whenever I watch shows like “Monk” or “Psych,” I always try to solve the mystery before the grand reveal at the end of the show. I’ve watched enough of these shows by this point in my life that I often have figured out the culprit halfway through the show. So with that in mind, I eagerly started Browne’s new self-published book.
With my busy schedule working a full-time job, commuting three hours a day and coaching both of my daughters’ softball teams, I don’t have as much time for reading as I would like. However, Trial Junkies was so fast-paced and so well-written that once I had started, I couldn’t stop turning the pages and I had finished the book in no time. Did I solve the mystery before the end? I’ll get to that in a minute.
Ethan “Hutch” Hutchinson is a washed-up actor who returns to his Chicago roots when his former college sweetheart who he hasn’t seen in years is found murdered. Hutch reluctantly reunites with the rest of their group of friends at her funeral. When another member of the group is arrested for the murder, Hutch and his friends band together to find the real killer before their friend is convicted. The case takes multitudes of twists and turns as the police and Hutch follow the breadcrumb trail of clues until Hutch at last discovers the horrible secret hiding in plain sight. To say any more about the story would ruin the surprises for you.
Did I solve the mystery before the big reveal? Not entirely. But I loved trying! Throughout the twist and turns, I was able to partially figure out what was going on, but not 100%. In spite of that, I was left feeling very satisfied by the ending. Sometimes, a surprise ending in a mystery feels like it came from out of left field, or, at the other extreme, it is too completely telegraphed to actually be a surprise. This falls perfectly in the middle, with just enough clues to give you a taste of what is coming without completely letting the whole murderous cat out of the bag.
Trial Junkies is a pulse-pounding thriller that is populated by real characters. Browne’s snappy dialogue and masterful storytelling makes the characters come alive. You will quickly feel as if you know Hutch and his friends and will want to fight along with them to discover the truth.
Browne has said this is the first book in a series and I can’t wait for the next one. I am eager to see what twist and turns Browne has in store for us in book two.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I give Trial Junkies a 5.
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