The April 24, 2017 issue of Publishers’ Weekly carries a review of my debut novel, Defiled. It is a privilege and an honor to be reviewed by the industry’s premier magazine and I am grateful. Relatively few books are accorded this honor.
I found the review to be accurate in both its praise and its criticism. As a debut author I am certainly feeling my way around a dark room hunting for a light switch. For example, the reviewer said, “… Nemeth writes well and knows how to build suspense …”. I’ll take that as high praise and encouragement to keep writing. The reviewer also said that my characters could have more depth. I’ll take that as constructive criticism.
However, the reviewer wasted space recounting the details of the first few chapters and ignored the drama that played out over the rest of the story. She seemed to dismiss the story as a tawdry fight over money. That, however, is not what the story is about. The money is what Hitchcock called the MacGuffin–the object being pursued by the characters in order to keep the plot moving. The MacGuffin is never what the story is about.
What the reviewer missed is that the whole point of the story is: Our legal system is a mess and sometimes courageous innocents must step outside the law to find justice. Randle Marks couldn’t give two hoots about the money but he does care about fairness and justice and that’s his pursuit at any cost. Perhaps I was too subtle in making that point. Perhaps we’re so accustomed to a shoddy justice system that we accept its flaws as the natural order and think it is Okay. It’s not Okay and that’s the point of the story.
The reviewer did acknowledge that the suspense builds nicely but she failed to mention that, like the theme, the suspense has nothing to do with who will get the money. The mystery being solved in the story is: Is there a murder plot and, if so, who is plotting against whom? The suspense is based upon the sort of misinformation and miscalculations we all deal with in our everyday life. That is the environment into which the reader is immersed. That is why the story is interesting.
So, I’m thankful for the press coverage but wonder if I need to be more blatant in making my points or if the reviewer just missed the point.