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Barrett Fuller's Secret by Scott Carter
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Barrett Fuller's Secret

by Scott Carter

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Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

When I read Scott Carter’s first novel, BLIND LUCK, I fell in love with his masterful plotting and fantastic dialogue, but I didn’t think I’d be sucked in quite as fully again, because gone is that pleasant surprise one experiences when discovering a favorite author for the first time.

BARRETT FULLER’S SECRET is a vastly different experience than Carter's debut novel, and I've added brilliant characterization to the things I love about his writing. At first I was more than intrigued by the premise behind this book. In “real life” when authors use pen names or aliases, it’s usually to hide “unsavory” content from folks they know. It’s all about keeping our real world reputation squeaky clean. Porn authors, for example, often use pen names because for most people, finding out your child’s teacher or your doctor wrote something that forced you into a cold shower would result in some shit-losing. This book’s protagonist, bestselling children’s author, Barrett Fuller, is the opposite of the typical author. He uses a pen name to hide the fact that his personal life is unsavory. If anyone knew who he really was, they’d never buy a single book, no matter how well-written. Kind of a sad statement on the reality that readers too often judge books by the author, rather than the writing, but it is what it is.

I knew from the first pages that this would be a fun ride. The character is instantly an asshole and I do love assholes. They have so much potential. The reader is fully drawn in (if you aren’t already) when an anonymous extortionist catches on to Barrett’s secret, and threatens to ruin everything. The “opportunities” Barrett is given to redeem himself begin easily enough. He’s asked to do things like donate money to charity and attend sensitivity training. Then the demands, and their consequences, become more serious. For example, his blackmailer knows that he slept with an underage girl, and warns that if he does not do what is asked to make amends for the crime, the girl will come forward and he faces criminal charges. Later, the demands made by Barrett’s blackmailer force him to look at his life and what he’s made of it. This is pretty tough, considering Barrett has committed all the sins; sex, booze, drugs, deceit and more. I won’t give more detail because I’d be giving away the juicy bits. I’ll just say that Carter doesn’t shy away from making this character unlikeable, but most impressive is that I was engaged and guessing until the “big reveal” of the blackmailer. Also impressive is how Carter wrings every ounce of gut-wrenching tension and heartbreak from the reveal that could possibly be wrung without making it feel hokey.

Now that I’m done rambling, I suppose you’ve guessed I highly recommend reading this book, but if you read BLIND LUCK, don’t expect the same experience. While Carter’s easy voice and style are definitely there, where BLIND LUCK was written with smooth prose that lulled you gently along, BARRETT FULLER’S SECRET is gritty, jolting, and the most fun I’ve had reading a novel in a while.
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  ReneeMiller | Feb 25, 2016 |
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Barrett Fuller is a world-famous and very wealthy children's author who writes under a pseudonym because he's a self-absorbed womanizer and drug-user. His life changes when he receives an extortion letter, challenging him to live up to the morals he currently espouses in his books. He is presented with a series of tasks to complete or face having his identity revealed to the public, resulting in the ruin of his financial empire.Richard Fuller, Barrett's nephew, has a secret too, and it's one no kid should bear. He knows why his father left the family and he's never told his mother.When the extortionist challenges Barrett to spend time with his nephew, their respective secrets move towards a collision that will change their lives forever.… (more)

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