The Consequence of Loyalty: Trey Stone
Rating: 4 Stars
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy of this book and am leaving a voluntary review. This opinion is entirely my own and is in no way influenced by outside parties.
Twenty pages into this book, one thing became very clear. This was going to be either a three or four-star review. I kept jumping back and forth between the two ratings, unable to decide where the line was. There are a lot of great things in this book, and a few that were disappointing. After the summary, I’ll start with the negatives and work my way around to the positives, and what clinched the four-star rating for me.
The Consequence of Loyalty is about two FBI agents trying to understand why the third member of their task force has shot their boss. In the mix is a troublesome internal affairs investigator, a crotchety lawyer, and a nice twist or two. It’s a simple premise, and it works.
The biggest disappointment for me was really simple to fix: typos. I encountered perhaps eight or nine in the first forty pages, and then less thereafter, but they were still present throughout. Most of them were on small words that are easy to miss, simple mistakes we all make. Still, it was enough to yank me out of the story on multiple occasions, which was upsetting, since I was enjoying the story so much. It would have benefited from another round of proofreading. There are also a lot of unnecessary commas, which interrupts the flow of the sentences.
Secondly, and much less problematic for me: There’s some repetitive stage direction. I think there were four or five raised eyebrows in the first twenty pages, then it’s fine. There’s also a chunk where several people “smile at the corner of their mouth,” then it’s fine again. Sometimes a phrase just gets stuck in your head and you use it more than you should, it happens to everyone.
In terms of story, my only grievance is that the primary antagonist, Lloyd Ackerman, is so bullheaded and one-dimensional that I couldn’t stand him. I know he’s supposed to be a stubborn jerk, but I think a small redeeming quality or two would have really helped round him out. Additionally, some of his body language is a little excessive. The guy is constantly growling, grumbling, scowling, pounding his fist on tables, yelling, crossing his arms, etc. A little less would have worked better, in my opinion. It’s a minor problem with his characterization, overall, I think he works. He’s just on the page so much I wish he would have been rendered with a lighter touch.
You might be thinking that if I wrote three paragraphs worth of grievances, that I didn’t like this book much. But remember, I gave it four stars. If you can get past the minor grammatical issues and one character who is a little bit too much, there are a lot of great things about this book.
First off, the pacing is phenomenal. I usually have a tough time starting books because there’s so much to introduce: characters, setting, story, etc. This book drops you right into the story with the most important characters and smoothly builds from there. There’s little to no rest between important scenes, and everything flows cohesively. At no point did I start to think “Wait, what? Who’s this person? When did that happen?” It’s so well-constructed that I was able to keep the big story and the smaller details of each individual scene straight in my head without a problem. That can be tough when writing a mystery or psychological thriller.
Another positive is the prose. It’s usually clear, simple, and straightforward. You won’t find any beautiful sentences or poignant phrases, but neither will you find paragraphs cluttered with self-important, grandiose language. It really helps the flow of the story and keeps things moving as a nice clip.
Character-wise, the two most likable characters are, thankfully, the two main ones, Jordan Greer and Dana Norman, who are teammates of Gerard Martin, the FBI agent accused of shooting their boss. Jordan Greer has some legitimately funny lines, and his rapport with Agent Norman is well-established. It reads like a genuine friendship with both professional camaraderie and personal intimacy of the platonic nature. I’m really glad there wasn’t any sort of romantic subtext with the two leads, it would have ruined their great chemistry. Their banter is generally entertaining and seems authentic, and their distinct styles of investigation are a great compliment to one another. Some other characters aren’t as skillfully handled, but since Greer and Norman are the ones we spend the most time with, I wasn’t particularly bothered by it. Quality leads are the most important.
Lastly, the story. About halfway through, I realized that with everything hanging so delicately in the balance, the “mind-blowing twist,” as per the book’s description, would be the make-or-break for the book’s rating. If I could predict the twist, three stars. If it caught me by surprise, four.
Well, the book is rated four stars. I thought I had it nailed down. I really did.
The ending is satisfying, all the loose ends are explained and tied up, and the behavior and motivations that fuel the main plot and conclusion are well-handled. It’s nice to read a book that ends on such a strong note. Sometimes, the big reveal ends up feeling lackluster and cheapens the rest of the book, which is a shame, given the time investment. This is very much the opposite. The story builds in quality as it progresses, and things grow clearer instead of more convoluted.
Way to stick the landing, Mr. Stone.