Review of Brad Carl’s Debut Novel: Grey Areas

I first had the pleasure of talking with Brad Carl on twitter, when I was just getting my account started and finding my first followers. Through this entire ‘me trying to review his book’ process he has been the most supportive, understanding guy to talk with. I was supposed to have this review up weeks ago, and then last Friday, and then yesterday… we all see how that has worked out for me.

In the interest of full disclosure, he did offer this book to me for free. HOWEVER, he offers everyone the first book in his Grey Areas Saga for free. And you just can’t beat free. It’s the lowest you can go.

So, I undertook reading it.  And I knew right away that I wanted it to be the first book I reviewed on Amanda Heiser Writes.

The novel opens with Henry Fields moving to the very small town of Gable, Iowa. Please envision corn field after glorious green cornfield. He quickly gets hired at the local gas station and asks to be paid in cash. Across the way is a diner where he meets Claire Mathison, and though Henry is mysterious and certainly shies away from personal details, Claire is very much attracted to him.

The story moves slowly at the beginning. And the action-filled payoff happens quickly. But Brad does well with the characterization of Henry and Claire in the meantime, I’m very excited to read their adventures in the future books (especially seeing as how the first ends in a cliffhanger).

Henry is very clearly running from his past, but the subtle build up and the suspense of waiting to find out what he’s running from was written well. You could also tell that Henry was very practiced at noticing details and categorizing people in the way that each character he meets is described. I’d normally fault an author for showing, not telling, but I really think that it works well in how Henry is developed. It also leads me to question just how long he’s been running, and what kind of background he has. That kind of attention to detail doesn’t come out of nowhere, and I wonder if he’s been trained. I hope to see this explained further as I keep reading this saga.

Claire is straightforward and strong willed. At least in the beginning. Some of her first conversations with Henry really had me rooting for the small-town girl. I was a little disappointed with how she approaches Henry when she’s ready to move the relationship forward. It was a stereotypical weak girl moment, and after being painted in such a strong light, it was a jarring and seemed out of character. I’m hoping to see her strength played to in the next three books. It’s rare to read about strong secondary women, and I don’t want to see her be the classic damsel in distress.

I believe that the next books are set up well. Most of the background information seems to be out front now. This was also Brad Carl’s debut novel; I would expect the pacing to be a bit faster through the rest of the saga as well. I’ll let you know as I read them.

Now, I’m not one for blowing smoke up anyone’s bum; I liked this book. I have every intention of paying for and reading the next three books in the saga. And when there’s a wealth of free reading material on the internet (shameless plug of self-promotion), wanting to pay money for a book by a relatively unknown author matters. You may not walk away thinking you’ve read (INSERT CLASSIC MYSTERY BY WELL KNOWN, FAVORED AUTHOR OF YOUR CHOICE HERE); but I really think, if you give Grey Areas a chance, you’re going to want to read the next three books too.