“Book Review: Criminal Beware”
Reviewed by Joe Walters
Danger and seduction in sunny San Diego
Author Joseph Stone weaves a dark web of paranormal mystery in Criminal Beware. With its main character getting deeper and deeper into his new lifestyle, it’s up to readers to stay objective and piece together the clues of what dangers lurk in the sunlight.
This novel opens as Daniel Archer is getting promoted. He is sent from snowy New York to beautiful San Diego to help oversee a hotel, and all seems to be looking up for him. With this warm weather and the stunning home his new job gives him, it looks like this is going to be quite the positive move for him. But this is a mystery novel. We know that isn’t going to last long.
The mystifying Gabrielle Roussade throws a dinner party for Daniel at her gorgeous home and within moments, becomes a potential romantic lead. She’s beautiful, mysterious, and cunning, but Daniel’s newfound romance is hampered by the news of a murder. After the body of a lawyer is found under a nearby bridge, all guests at the dinner party become potential suspects. Then, to make Daniel’s life even more confusing, he begins having paranormal visions that he refuses to take seriously.
As the investigation continues, the reader can pick up on clues of both the murder and the source of the paranormal activity, making for an altogether enjoyable reading experience. The main character undergoes countless changes following his move to California, both physical and emotional, giving us a plot-driven story with emotional ties to keep us grounded.
Criminal Beware is a fascinating spin on the classic story of moving across the country. When you leave blistering cold winter to reach the year-round summer of San Diego, you probably wouldn’t expect the irony to come: that evil is waiting for you in the beautiful place. I can’t help but appreciate what Joseph Stone has done to eschew reader expectations and flip this classic narrative on its head.
But the primary reason why this novel is so enjoyable? It really is mysterious. Author Joseph Stone provides everything that readers are looking for when they pick it up. The paranormal events make you curious. The murder makes you second guess. And even the love story has its own twinge of mystery to it. Readers have to keep their eyes peeled for clues, while the author remains one step ahead.
While I enjoyed this book, I did have a difficult time with the lapses of modern dialogue. The setting and tone both fit the 1920s time period well, but the dialogue does occasionally make me question if their voices sound natural. Also, Daniel Archer has some work to do to improve as a romantic lead. He proves to be a bit more aggressive and territorial than I’d like, but in the end, neither of these issues came between my overall enjoyment of the story.
After flying through this book, I’m confident that fans of paranormal mystery will find what they’re looking for in it. It’ll inspire readers to piece together clues and, like Daniel, get more than they bargained for.
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