Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. Each week I review a well-written book, highlighting what makes it good from the reader’s perspective and what writing skills and techniques make it an irresistible read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers.
This week's excellent read is Copperhead Cove, a suspenseful story in which a cheerful and relaxed fishing guide finds himself in a heap of trouble,
Here is the description:
The stillness of the warm, Kentucky afternoon on Copperhead Cove is shattered by the echo of a high-powered rifle, sending birds flying and two famous basketball coaches to a watery grave. Bo Paxton, their fishing guide, becomes collateral damage, thrashing through the murky waters of Quail Hollow Lake for his life while a Chicago hit man hunts him down, beginning a life-and-death manhunt for Bo and a marked member of the Chicago mob.
Ethan Paxton and Jake Delgado, from far-off California, search the unfamiliar Kentucky hill country for Bo, but they aren’t the only ones looking for him. In a race against time and the Chicago mob, Ethan and Jake must battle an unforgiving lake, a thunderstorm and poisonous snakes to decide Bo’s fate. Can they reach him before the mob enforcers?
While devouring this book, I couldn't wait for reading time each day.
What makes Copperhead Cove a great read?
This was a can't-put-it-down tale of misadventure, full of realistic characters, humor, suspense, fear, and a vivid setting.
Prologue - Meeting the Villain First:
"Good Old Days" of Organized Crime
The prologue struck me as chilling ad comedic at the same time. Tonelli bemoans the bygone days when a mob guy could gain for killing someone. I could imagine "Glory Days" playing in the background.
Copperhead Cove begins with the villain, and thus it start with a prologue rather than chapter one. This is a subtle signal to the reader that you're getting something "extra" and not diving into the protagonist right away.
A prologue is where you'll typically either meet the villain, glean a piece of essential backstory (also done here), and/or gain insight into a key person or situation you'll encounter during the book.
Including Sensory details
I love how Ron Parham included smells. So many authors forget about smells and tastes. Here is a great example:
"Frankie Farmer walked into Tonelli's office, smelling of garlic, using his sleeve to wipe marinara sauce from his chin."
I'm Italian and from Chicago. Reading that made me want pasts! Lots of great restaurants in Chicago. But I digress.
This one sentence does double duty: it includes the senses and gives insight into Frankie's slovenly habits.
Sense of Place
Have you ever read a book and thought it all happened in a dark closet? That's what it feels like when an author fails to put the reader right into the scene, smelling the smells, seeing the sights, and sampling all the local color.
Sense of place is so important in a story, and Ron Parham brings the reader right into the setting of Copperhead Cove.
A good writer such as Ron Parham makes you visualize, hear, feel, even smell and taste the scene because you know precisely where you are at all times. You're never left to try to figure out what the author meant.
You'll feel the stillness as you begin reading chapter one. You'll feel the bug bites later in the story. Sensory details and sense of place go hand-in-hand.
Where to Begin the Story in a Novel
While reading the prologue, you'll see the busy city office. Chapter 1 brings you right into the cherry-red bass boat with the two brothers whose lives are about to change.
Some book openings reveal character or plop you into the middle of a battle. This one gives you a sense of place and lifestyle.
The two brothers sat motionless in the cherry-red bass boat, staring at their respective fishing lines like hawks circling the landscape for their next meal. The water was as still as mirrored glass, with no ripples or abstractions, reflecting the setting sun.
This opening defies the common wisdom to start with action. And there's good reason to flaunt The Way It's Done in this case.
Because of the prologue, the reader knows trouble's afoot. Once trouble comes to Bo,, the brother who is about to get into a pickle, the reader has been part of a relaxing day in his near-perfect life.
Parham deftly causes the reader to care about his protagonist Bo and even about the way o f life he enjoys in Kentucky.
Some suspense noves follow a single character throughout, never changing point of view. Others, of which Copperhead Cove is one, move between several people's perspectives while telling the tale.
What makes this switch work is sticking completely inside one head at a time. ONe person at a time has a chance to be your eyes, ears and perceptions during a given scene.
Right when you really want to know what happens next, you're at a new scene or chapter and inside some else's head for a time. Fabulously suspenseful.
Whether you're a reader who loves suspense or a writer wanting to hone your craft, Copperhead Cove will keep you at the edge of your seat.
About author Ron Parham
After thirty years in the global logistics and high-tech industries, Ron Parham retired on his birthday in 2011 and immediately began penning his first novel, Molly's Moon. He hasn't looked back and will soon finish his second thriller, Copperhead Cove. His novels incorporate his many unusual experiences while traveling around the world on business. He writes in the seaside town of Carlsbad, CA.
Buy Copperhead Cove
About Ronda Del Boccio
Ronda Del Boccio is an award-winning and best selling author of both fiction and nonfiction. She tells transformational tales and helps visionary authors turn their dreams and imaginings into published books. See and order Ronda's books on Amazon.
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