Wednesday, December 11, 2013

MURDERED by James Schannep

     If you've been following my reviews then you may have read my Halloween review that featured a book titled Infected. It was the first "Choose your own Adventure" style book I'd read in years, and the first I'd ever read that was geared towards adults and I gave it a pretty solid review.

     The same author, James Schannep, wrote the story I'm reviewing today Murdered. This story is yet another "Click your Poison" book that allows the reader an interactive experience that is a comical, thrilling and all around wonderfully written read.

     Murdered follows the reader and friends on a trip to Rio during Carnival, particularly during the parade to kick the celebration off. Surrounded by thousands of people, locals and fellow tourists, you become lost while snapping photos. Its once you go down a seedy alleyway to photograph some graffiti art that your descent into the rabbit hole begins.

     The first choice you have happens fairly quickly, and your instantly thrown in the middle of an investigation involving a murdered American federal employee, drugs, and a multi-national energy summit. Each choice brings you closer to finding who is behind the woman's murder, and why she was murdered.

     It would be near impossible to do a real synopsis like I normally do, the multitudes of choices you must make as the story progresses ensure that no two people will play the same way. Instead I'll give a little bit of a 'what I did' synopsis for my first run.

     After refusing to follow the instructions left behind at the crime scene, I bumped into a mysterious stranger before being taken into police custody. A couple decisions later I was deputized by the embassy and officially became and unofficial detective.

     Following my 'gut' I examined the case with two separate agents, both having their own distinct styles we began moving in on our man....then things got interesting.

     Shortly after an encounter with a suspect, that I foolishly lose we're splitting up into two teams. My team, unfortunately, winds up in the jungle with an anaconda and a sniper and two choices later I very much fail my first big case.

     I must admit that I was worried this story would lack the things that made Infected such a great read. Instead, however, Schannep delivered a story that is full of 'pros':

  • The shear fun of an adult 'choose your own adventure' is a pro to this story on its own. Getting to make your own decisions and see the outcomes of your choices is nothing short of wonderful.
  • There is a little less of a comedic undertone in this one when compared to Schannep's Halloween release, but instead of taking away it actually allows you to focus on the mystery and the thrills more. 
  • The mystery behind the story is very intriguing. It mixes so many elements and possibilities that it really keeps you guessing throughout your adventure. 
     There are several elements that I haven't touched on yet, from the quality of the writing to the organization and several other characteristics that mark this as a must read. I honestly can't think of one con that takes away from this story in any way. 

     Overall I'm going to give Murdered by James Schannep a resounding 10/10 based on:

    10/10 for readability - Writing a novel is hard, that's no secret. Even with my own novella I've struggled in places to keep the story readable throughout. I can't imagine trying to organize multiple stories in a way that is fun and relaxed, but at the same time well written, concise, creative and most of all entertaining.
    10/10 for characters - Everyone from the lowliest extra to the more prominent character is as real as you and me. Each one as an identifiable and individual voice that you can recognize immediately, even the way each character talks and acts is fitting to his or her own position. On my, relatively, short journey I can recall each encounter, and each conversation. 

     9/10 for story - International murder mystery that mixes elements of drug trade, espionage and the biggest advance in 'green' energy known to man. Each possibility that exists is well thought out, and the consequences of each decision are all realistic and you'll regret half of the ones you make. 

     10/10 for creativity - Though this isn't Schannep's first trek into the 'Click your Poison' line, it is a creative home run. Combining an original story with branch after branch after branch that takes you to very different places and outcomes is no easy task, and it takes a special mind to be able to put everything together. So for me the thing that sets this story apart is the incredible amount of creativity it took to write and organize this piece. 

     A big thank you to James Schannep for contacting me about Murdered, I can honestly say I enjoyed every page; even my demise was entertaining. A concern that all authors have, particularly when their previous work was a hit, is whether or not they will be doomed to be 'one hit wonders' or will they be able to follow up. I know James had this same thought, but I can honestly say he hit another home run with this story and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a fun and entertaining read that can keep you busy for days. 

     If you'd like to pick up a copy of Murdered simply click here.


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