“Book Review: A Woman of Valor”
Reviewed by Robyn-Lee Samuels
A Woman of Valor by Gary Corbin is a well-crafted novel that explores the influence rape has on the life of officer Valorie Dawes and her family a decade later.
The novel opens as Valorie Dawes, aka Val, starts her career in law enforcement. Inspired by her uncle’s legacy and her anger toward the man who molested her, Val is eager to bring justice to her hometown Clayton, Connecticut. She soon discovers that the Clayton Police Department is not as open to female cops as she’d thought and that her hunger for justice could endanger her life and the lives of those she’s closest to. While responding to a domestic dispute, Valorie is forced to face her childhood demons and discover what she’s truly after: justice or vengeance?
In the #MeToo era, Gary Corbin approaches a delicate subject matter with tact and sensitivity. The author successfully tackles themes of child molestation, sexual harassment, and domestic violence without delving into explicit details. Using character-focused narrative, Corbin voices diverging opinions without preaching at the reader. There is a clear sense of right and wrong in the narrative, but the characters don’t persuade each other one way or the other. Instead, the protagonist learns to thrive in a world that doesn’t welcome her.
“Val sighed. She might never convince her friend of how she felt. What unsettled her was that she hadn’t convinced herself yet, either.”
A Woman of Valor reads more like a contemporary than Corbin’s usual mystery/thrillers. Though the plot involves a manhunt, the novel is largely character-driven, and the reader journeys with Valorie as she learns the hard way what it takes to be a great cop. The author’s use of flat characters achieves this goal masterfully. Surrounding his protagonist with minor characters like these, Corbin narrows the reader’s focus in on Val’s internal conflict. However, not every character feels necessary. Removing some of these side characters might have condensed the novel and perhaps led to an even better ending.
With A Woman of Valor, Corbin constructs an immersive, relatable world for his characters, full of action, conflict, and humor. Though Valorie is the main point of view character, two surprising POVs are spread through the novel, increasing the tension and conflict of the narrative. As for twists, there are very few with substantial impact on the plot, but in the end, this novel is an altogether enjoyable read.
A sequel, A Better Part of Valor, is set for publication in 2020.
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