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8 Hours to Die by J.R. Carroll

8 Hours to Die

by J.R. Carroll

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I thought the description of this book was interesting which is why I requested it from Netgalley. However, the start is very confusing as there are just too many characters and too much time is spent on their back story to the detriment of the development and progression of the front story. We zig-zag backwards and forwards in time as each member of the gang is introduced. I know the author is using this device as a means to ratchet up the tension in a story which, in reality has little to none.

Given the time spent on each person’s back story these characters have the characters lack substance and indeed the main characters are less fleshed out as they are meant to be the victims. And we never get to know about Tim’s wife at all.

The plot is not new either and the characters lack substance and depth (even given the amount of time the author spends on each characters back story. Throughout the novel these character make silly mistakes which made we scream at my Kindle.

We also know the person behind the event so despite the twists and turns of the novel, the ending was no surprise. To be honest it was a bit of a let-down and easy to forget. But I don’t want to make up your mind for you … read the novel and come to your own conclusion.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review. ( )
  anuttyquilter | Mar 21, 2015 |
"Carroll is the Australian writer who has most fully and consistently approached the dark and alienated world of Americans like James Ellory and Andrew Vachss..." Continent of Mystery, Stephen Knight (MUP, 1997).

Sometime in the early 2000's, deeply immersed in an obsession with J.R. Carroll's books (which at the time were very hard to get hold of) coming across that quotation was a nice vindication of the book quest that was occupying a bit of my book buying time. It is, however, sheer coincidence that I'd be re-reading Continent of Mystery at the time that Momentum release some of Carroll's back catalogue, and the latest book - 8 HOURS TO DIE. There were no surprises, however, in the reaction to the news, which I must admit was one of excitement. Carroll writes dark, conflicted, complex characters balanced in the edge world between good and bad. He sets those characters in dark, difficult and very realistic places, and throws plots at them that twist and turn like a corkscrew, slowly dragging the truth out into the murky light.

Needless to say, this reader came to 8 HOURS TO DIE with extremely high expectations. Expectations that wobbled a little at the start. As much as I love dark and conflicted, I've developed a violent gag reflex when evil starts lurking about behind gumtrees in the bush. The symptoms are even worse when the location is remote, completely without outside help. Of course the phones don't work, the generator can be switched off, and the victims are conveniently sitting out in the middle of nowhere with "come and get us" signs welded to the front gate.

But Carroll's a very good writer, and whilst there does seem to be an inevitability about the fate of the cop and his wife, in their remote house, with the lurking threat of outlaw bikies, there are, right from the start, enough questions to hold the reader. Motivation is an immediate intrigue. Despite Fontaine's past as a cop, and present as a lawyer, there's nothing immediately obvious about why 3 bikies would go to all this trouble to attack him. That remains a question in the back of the reader's head for quite a lot of the book. There's less waiting for the results of the house invasion. Once the lights go out, things happen quickly and violently. Interspersed with the current action, there are chapters of background for each of these bikies. They fill in the personal, as well as the circumstances that led them to become not just outlaw bikies, but violent killers. It doesn't bode well for Fontaine and his wife, as there's not a lot of hope in the background of each of these attackers.

For some readers, those interjections of the background might distract from the action in the present. For this reader, they contributed quite a bit to the threat - an understanding of who these 3 are, and how there past informed their current behaviour actually made the whole thing somehow more disconcerting. Particularly as the details of Tim and Amy are less fleshed out, perhaps because are destined to be the victims.

It wasn't long before expectations were firmly back on track, and the way that 8 HOURS TO DIE twists and turns right to the last page reminded me yet again of just how much I love J.R. Carroll's writing. If you've never read any of his books, Momentum have presented everyone with the perfect opportunity to rectify that immediately and that's a cause for much celebration! http://momentumbooks.com.au/authors/jr-carroll/

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-8-hours-die-jr-carroll ( )
  austcrimefiction | Mar 17, 2014 |
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Ex-cop turned criminal lawyer Tim Fontaine and his wife Amy are heading for their weekender - a restored farmhouse in remote bushland known as Black Pig Bend. But even before they've eaten dinner, three outlaw bikers arrive on the scene. Suddenly Tim's house becomes a fortress. Who are these people? Why have they come? Who sent them? As the lights go out and darkness descends, their idyllic world is transformed into a nightmare from which there is no waking up. Tim must grapple not just with formidable adversaries, but with unsettling questions relating to his own past, both as cop and lawyer, and even to his marriage.… (more)

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