2016/07/16 by rmstrong1980
Chained Guilt by Terry Keys
$0.00 at time of publishing
Chained Guilt is the first in the Hidden Guilt series. It follows David Porter, a decorated Houston Police Department detective who, in this first-person account, claims to be one of the best serial killer hunters in the country, if not the world.
When Porter’s wife Miranda, a celebrated investigative reporter, is in a car accident–run off the road late at night under suspicious conditions–and her body is not found, it leaves him and their 15-year-old and a 5-year-old daughters wondering where she was and what could have happened. Only a few days later, everyone urged him to move on, so he beings making his plans, convinced as to what had happened. After making sure that the person he believed responsible for his wife’s disappearance spent the rest of his life in prison, he returned and they started At the funeral, a mysterious woman saunters into their lives. Six months later, Stacy has ingratiated herself into their lives and Porter decided to begin seeing her. That is when his life really started to fall apart.
The story and situations are adult in nature and are not suitable for children (not that the book was marketed in that direction). There is some language, but it seems forced and put in simply for shock value or to show that a character is really angry, rather than it being their normal way of speaking. (This includes a Vietnam vet Porter meets in Dubai.)
The transitions to differing points of view–Porter’s, the villain’s, and a handful of others’–can, at times, be jarring and without warning, but for the most part (the points mentioned below notwithstanding), the story runs rather smoothly, despite a number of typos and some eBook formatting issues.
There is some mention of God and church and praying, and the characters at points claim to be Christians, but there is little evidence of it in any of their lives.
I try not to have spoilers in my reviews, but I may not be able to adequately express my feelings without revealing some pertinent details. If you do not want to read spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading the review.
Are we good? Okay. Beware… Here be spoilers.
This book could not be more disjointed if it tried to be. There are about four different books smashed into one.
The prologue takes place in Russia, where the main character is, apparently, trying to take revenge on some Russian gangster who killed his brother. For a chapter, we are in some kind of spy thriller, not the mystery/suspense we had been expecting. After leaving a string of bloody corpses (but not getting his man), he leaves Russia and we never hear of this part of his life, or his brother (despite the fact that we do meet his parents), ever again.
All of a sudden we are transported to Houston, where we are at a grisly crime scene of a dead 8-year-old–the second child killed in Houston in such a manner in less than a month (see below), and we are thrust back into the mystery/suspense.
After Miranda’s disappearance, Porter heads off to Dubai where he James-Bonds his way through the streets of a foreign country (see below), killing and torturing everyone who gets in his way until he gets the guy he believes is responsible for his wife’s death. And there is something about human traficking that was never really fleshed out or adequately explained.
Six months after Miranda’s funeral, it become something of a wink and a nod to the reader and a commentary on unstable, abusive relationships. Stacy moves into the house with Porter and the girls and proceeds (with the readers’ full knowledge) to destroy their lives. Porter hardly goes to work any longer, maybe once every few chapters, and while he mentions Miranda’s disappearance a lot, there is absolutely no mention of Dubai or Russia, and the killer seems to have gone underground and no other children are harmed with no explanation as to why.
It’s like the author couldn’t decide what kind of book he wants to write.
The characters of the kids, the youngest in particular, are a bit unbelievable. Karen, the 5-year-old, oftentimes speaks as if she is 20 years older than she actually is–giving her father advice and comfort in the midst of everything, using language far beyond her age.
There is a torture scene in Dubai that is tired and contrived–water boarding and battery clamps on the nipples–all while standing around in an underground arsenal that would make the A-Team drool (more on Dubai later).
The relationship between Stacy and Porter was horrible. I had no sympathy at all for Porter during the last half of the book. His wife had only been gone for less than six months and he caved to his daughter’s pressure to get back into the dating scene. He, who presumably had been trained to spot the signs of an abusive partner, couldn’t see her advances as manipulative. He told her “no” or “let’s wait” and she didn’t obey, but he didn’t see that as what it is–rape. For someone who claims to be the premier hunter of serial killers in the country, for him not to be able to see what was happening is a little farfetched.
But the thing that really got me was the utter lack of research involved in writing the story. Porter calls two killings of children (while horrific) the work of a serial killer. A real detective (or anyone who has watched Criminal Minds or taken a course in Criminology) would know that to be classified as a serial, there has to be three or more killings.
Detective Porter takes his service weapon with him to Dubai (a Muslim country on the Persian Gulf) in order to apprehend the person he believes is responsible for his wife’s disappearance who is involved in some kind of human trafficking ring. However, the only luggage he brings is his carry-on, which means he snuck it past the TSA, and then international security, and then Customs in Dubai. Dubai is a sovereign nation that does not allow its citizens the same rights we have here. After leaving a string of dead bodies in his wake, when returning home with his tortured captive, the police captain tells him, “I know you did it, but I can’t prove it, so you need to leave the country.” This would not happen in Dubai–a place where married tourists can get jail time for simply holding hands in public. The police would not care about due process, they’d just throw Porter in jail and wait for the Embassy. And that arsenal mentioned above? That would be an even worse sentence.
The book is a good first final draft. However, there are too many things that made it a poorly-told final draft.