Silent Partner is a new novel by Jennifer Chase.  She has two earlier books, Compulsion, and Dead Game, which won a 2010 Bronze Award for Fiction/Thriller at ReaderFavorite.  Her latest novel is about Jack Davis, a police officer in California’s K9 Unit.  He is a man of great integrity who finds himself in a difficult position when an ex-girlfriend, a girl from his childhood, becomes a suspect when her sister is brutally murdered in their house while both women are home alone.

Ms. Chase was generous enough to send me a signed copy of her book to review for this blog.  The story sounded intriguing, so I looked forward to diving in.  The plot of the book moves along at an enjoyably fast pace.  There is a certain amount of suspension of disbelieve necessary to swallow some of its plot points, but I really did like the plot overall.

What this book suffers from a couple of problems.  The first is that the prologue seems entirely unnecessary and has little connection to the rest of the book.  It follows someone who ends up being barely a bit player in the rest of the book, and the book would not in any way be lacking if it didn’t have the prologue.

The second issue I had with the book is what I initially took to be a total lack of editing, but on rereading parts of it I now think that this may have been an intentional writing style.  Many paragraphs in the book are written in a choppy style with incomplete sentences, sometimes of only one word, making it difficult to read.  I think this may have been an attempt either to impart urgency or Ms. Chase was attempting to write in the style of hard-hitting crime novels that use this sort of terse tone.  If that is the case, then it was overused and poorly done, rendering many of the paragraphs so convoluted that it was sometimes difficult to decipher their meaning.

I hate to see this in what could otherwise be an enjoyable crime drama.  I had to really struggle to get through this book because some of the sentences and paragraphs were so convoluted that it was difficult to decipher their meaning.  I know I can be something of a grammar snob when it comes to books.  I’m not as bad when it comes to blogging or commenting because there people tend to write the way they talk, not in a more formal style.  This, however, is not a matter of snobbery, but a matter of wanting to read a book without having to retrace my steps because by the end of a paragraph I have lost where the beginning seemed to be headed.

It was very disappointing to know that when I reviewed this book, which I would otherwise have enjoyed as a beach read, I could not possibly recommend it.  This is one of the dangers of self-publishing, in my opinion.  It is all too easy to think that what you’ve written is fine and makes perfect sense because of course to you it does.  You know what those paragraphs mean to be saying.  The fact is that what you may think is clear may be completely undecipherable to your readers.