Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: The Visionary
AUTHOR: Charli Coty
PUBLISHER: NineStar Press
LENGTH: 156 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 30, 2017
Colin Page, eighteen-year-old community college student, apple polisher and all-around goody-goody, has a secret. He sees things that aren’t there. Unfortunately, the Doc Martens on the floor of the mail vestibule in his apartment building really are there and attached to a dead body. Hunkered over the body is someone Colin had barely noticed before, Private Investigator Al Green. Most people scare Colin, but for some reason, Al doesn’t, even after he reveals that he knows about the hidden reality of their world.
Alonzo Green, despite his low-power mind, is determined to help right the wrongs he unknowingly contributed to. He’s also hopelessly smitten. He knows it’s wrong—probably even dangerous—to enlist Colin’s help with the investigation. And that’s before considering all Al has to fear from Colin’s fiercely protective and powerful mother.
Colin and Al put some of the pieces together, but as soon as one thing becomes clear, the picture changes. The search for the Big Bad takes them from Portland to Tacoma and Seattle, and eventually to San Francisco, but their journey into each other’s arms is much shorter.
Colin’s life has hardly been what you call normal. Even so, discovering one of his neighbors keeled over on the floor dead—and covered in a fine purple mist—is a new level of strange. And with another neighbor crouching over the dead man, you’d think that what happened was pretty clear. But Colin has long been able to see into the heart and intentions of people…and Alonzo Green is no killer. That’s about the only thing Colin is sure of though, because as the two investigate the murder it soon becomes obvious that nothing is as it seems. Except maybe that they are both in an awful lot of danger.
So, this book had several good things going for it. Alonzo and Colin were two very interesting characters—and I liked the way they got more complex as the story went on. There also an interesting introduction for the magic here in this universe. Not being overloaded with information at the start of this story really sucked me into the book because I really wanted to know more.
Unfortunately the pacing and structure of the story got more chaotic as we went along and I had a hard time keeping up with what was going on on-page. It felt like the author really wanted this to be a high-impact adventure thriller—and thought the best way to go about that was to throw action scenes and jump scares at the audience at random in hopes of keeping us on our toes. Which, yeah, worked, but probably not the way the author wanted. By the fifth time it happened I was more than fed up and ready for it to stop.
There was also the way the antagonist of the story kept bloody changing. Colin and Alonzo would have this big confrontation with the Big Bad, ending with the baddie dead, only to have it revealed a few pages later that—wait a minute—they were only the lackey of someone other Bigger Bad. Which as a plot device is fine…just maybe not three or four times in one damn story. It got to be by the end that the Biggest Bad had only really been part of the story for a couple of scenes and I didn’t give a damn what happened with him—despite the fact the story was building him up like some type of super-evil genius. And let’s face it, the dude totally didn’t earn the respect that the book wanted us to give him.
And that was partly the result of the fact that the book never quite got around to making clear how the magic in this universe worked. A little mystery at first was great, but by the end of the story I expect to be less confused than I was at the beginning. I have no idea what the rules are for the magic here. Why do they seem really susceptible to mind reading at some points…and totally safe from it in other situations? They go out of their way to not even think the name of the bad guys…but that never seems to true in reverse. Was this ability to track someone down by just having them think about you once only a power the bad guys have? If so, why? I was never clear on what everyone in this universe could do with their magic. Or why they could do it in some situations and not others. I needed way more explanations than I got, because as it was it only added to the general confusion already building in the story. I like mystery in my books, not confusion.
By the end of the story I kinda felt like this book was a collection of good ideas that just got out of the author’s control. I needed a more cohesive plot, a better explained universe, and a more solid basis for this crazy relationship between Colin and Alonzo. They moved super quick from total strangers to living together and in love. When you add in the fact that Colin is barely legal—and Alonzo is nearly ten years his senior—it was way too quick to be believable. They never really had the connection that rung of romance for me. It didn’t help that they had a tendency to run away from conversations (and even more annoying, each other). The constant withholding of information just for the sake of Plot! got a bit tiresome as well.
I can’t help but feel that this could have been a better story is the author had spent a bit more time tightening everything up. As it is, it was way too chaotic to really enjoy.