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Release Day Review: Splintered, by S.J.D. Peterson

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Release Day Review: Splintered, by S.J.D. Peterson

Book Info

Book Series
Hunting Evil, Book #1
About the Author
It's been an amazing journey since DSP first contracted Lorcan's Desire in January 2011. I've published 2 free reads with the M/M Romance group, my back list is growing, met some great people and have made some amazing friends.
I'm still in shock that I'm listed among the many talented authors at Dreamspinner Press! The little voice in the back of my head is screaming, "You are so out of your league." 
Shhhhh I won't tell them if you don't :)

You can call me Jo, everyone does :)
Publication Date
May 31, 2016
A string of murders targeting effeminate gay men has the GLBTQ community of Chicago on alert, but budget cuts have left many precincts understaffed and overworked. Not to mention, homophobia is alive and well within the law enforcement community and little has been done to solve the mystery. When the FBI calls in Special Agent Todd Hutchinson and his team, the locals are glad to hand the case off. But Hutch finds a bigger mystery than anyone originally realized—seventeen linked murders committed in several different jurisdictions. Hutch’s clues lead him to Noah Walker.

Working on his PhD in forensic psychology, Noah has been obsessed with serial murders since he was a child. But coming to Hutch’s attention as a suspect isn’t a good way to start a relationship. Noah finds himself hunted, striking him off Hutch’s suspect list, but not off his radar. To catch the killer before anyone else falls victim, they’ll have to work together, and quickly, to bring him to justice.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Good, But Too Many Issues
POV – A mix – mostly 3rd person past tense POV, with 1st person present and a few slips of omnipresent
Would I read it again – Maybe
Genre – LGBT, Crime, Psychology, Serial Killer



So, I have mixed feelings about this one. For a start, the mix of POV tenses had my head in a spill. I was fine with the 3rd person past tense, but then the occasional serial killer POV would pop up in 1st person present and mix me all up. At first it was just the Prologue, which made total sense to have it in the killer's POV, but then there was 1 chapter about 60% in that was also the killer's POV and I don't feel it was really necessary.

Also, the story started with two of my pet hates – starting with weather (in particular, dew) and introducing the character in a very impersonal, game-show way “Special Agent Todd Hutchinson, known simply as Hutch,”. It really rubs me up the wrong way, for reasons I can't explain.

I'm going to keep going with the negatives, so that I can end on the positives. So, we also have one instance of bad formatting (though this is excusable as it's an unformatted ARC), where the information about Granite's academic achievements are not only on a single line each, but also contain links. I didn't check to find out where they lead, because I'm paranoid about links in books that way.

I found it a little strange to start the story off with Hutch and his team arriving on the scene of the first murder they were brought in on. From the blurb, it sounded as though we were going to get at least a glimmer of the “understaffed and overworked” precincts that are mentioned in the first line. Instead, we start instantly after the
FBI have already been called in and the only view of the local PD that we actually get are through Hutch's eyes – labelling them and other local cops as homophobic, ignorant and incompetent. Which, does a huge disservice to the many small town, local PD's that are actually tolerant and accepting of QLGBT people and the safety of
their community.

There was also an instance where Hutch describes Granite with : “his freakish appearance” after basically describing any other Goth. This is kind of insulting, even if it is followed up by a sentence of praise for the character. It just felt a little like the author was trying way too hard to project a Goth image and considered it freakish. If that
wasn't their intention, that's how it came off, as though they were dismissive of the Goth culture entirely.

Following on from the points above (Hutch's introduction and Granite's description) there are a lot of background dumps, especially in the first half of the story, that either weren't necessary or could have been fed into the story more seamlessly. I'm not sure we needed a paragraph for each of the team – Hutch, Granite and Byte – to
explain their full name, nicknames, personal background, clothing habits and academic achievements. All of which we get, at one point or another. It just felt a little forced, like this was a team of super brilliant FBI agents, who could get anything done and could do whatever they wanted or needed, because they were so incredible. It
bordered on incredulous at times and had me losing interest in the entire three of them, early on.

Which brings us to characters – Granite was the typical gallows humour and comic relief character, while Byte was the super-data hacker, who no one could really understand. Hutch was the cowboy, maverick FBI guy, willing to do anything and piss anyone off. It's a trio that is popular in crime stories, but it really didn't work for me. Maybe because the humour wasn't my style or they all seemed a little too contrived to be perfect, while oddballs.

There was no separation of scenes, either in location form or within the story. Only once did I notice an actual break which was a large gap in the white of my screen – to which I assume only a space was used. Which is kind of impossible to notice, when you're focused more on the words than how many spaces are between paragraphs. In some instances a definite break, either of – or *** was needed, to help us pinpoint a change. The timeline and transitions between locations was also just as confusing and difficult to follow at times.

When it comes to the POV's, I was surprised that it wasn't all just about Hutch. The Prologue is that of the killer, then at 24% we get one scene in Granite's POV (again, not sure it was strictly necessary) and later, at 32%, we also start to get Noah's POV, which begins a constant back and forth between Hutch and Noah's POV. There's also one more chapter of the killer's POV, just after halfway through. There are also quite a few slips from 3rd person, singular character, past tense POV to omni-present.

There are a lot of metaphors and analogies within the story. Some of them were okay, some were just really weird and there was a really strange thing about making one, then explaining why it was made, as though it's use had to be justified in some way. Or as though we weren't smart enough to figure out what it meant for ourselves. It got a little annoying.

There was also a strange imbalance of description. In some places, we'd get more information than we needed about a character, a place or an event, which wasn't particularly important. Then, later, we'd get little to no information about really important things. I found it really strange that an FBI agent spent barely 5 minutes at each crime scene – even when it wasn't related to his case – since that's where the most clues come from. I also found it very strange that they completely dismissed another case in the area, which seemed to be used as a possible “Eureka” moment, only to end up a fail. Which didn't really work, because we were given little to no information about the event until they were at the crime scene and Hutch expressed his doubt that it was the same guy before getting out of the car. Perhaps if that hadn't been done, there might have been more possibility that it was related.

We had a major build up of sexual tension, for about 2-3 chapters. 1 entire chapter was dedicated to the will-they won't-they of Hutch and Noah, promising so much with teasing looks, an almost kiss and a lot of physical teasing. But, when they're about to kiss – BAM! – end of chapter. And when we come back...nothing. Hutch is crawling out of Noah's bed, implying they'd slept together. But we get nothing! I was so frustrated and annoyed that there had been so much build up and we didn't even get an on page kiss! The only on page touching of lips that Noah and Hutch do is a quick peck stolen at the end of the book. Well, after all that build up, I'm sorry, but that's just not good enough.

I also have to add one thing about the crimes – I don't get the focus on “effeminate” men. Sure, the implication was that the killer carried the men to the locations and didn't need transport, but I think it's doing a disservice to the entire gay community to imply that all effeminate men are small twinks. Which is exactly what is implied
here. The story repeatedly points out the words “effeminate” in relation to “small in stature”, which isn't really the case. It's more of a stereotypical view of what “effeminate” means, than the actual reality.


On to the positives, though I probably shouldn't have gotten myself all worked up by the negatives first.

Positives are that the story was actually great. The writing was good, if not better (and would have been better, without all the mistakes/instances mentioned above) and the crime was actually intriguing and worth following to the end.

However, (sorry for dipping back into negatives) I did feel that it dragged on a little, because for all the fact that we had 3 super-duper brilliant, genius FBI agents on the case and one genius student of forensic/criminal psychology, who had actually had personal encounters with serial killers, NO ONE actually solved the case. There were no clues, no leads, nothing that any police or FBI could have followed to solve the case. They found the guy purely be fluke, because he came after Noah. And, to me, that's not a satisfying ending.

The characters were good. Though I personally didn't get along with them, they were all different, all well explored (sometimes too much) and all key, in their own way, to the story. The only one I really bonded with was Noah, who was fun and flighty, while being cheeky and exciting to follow. The others were a little too cardboard cut out
FBI/cop for me.

The crime itself was well thought out. The detail and attention put into the killer's MO, and the criminal research littered throughout – both in Hutch and Noah's exploration of profiling – was great. I'm a big crime buff, so I was pleased to see proper attention to detail and the correct terms and assumptions being reached, along with the accurate information of other historical serial killers.


Overall, it was just lacking too much. The characters, the way it was accidentally solved and the fact that all the investigative work happened in a hotel room, gazing at photographs or visiting crime scenes for Hutch's unexplained psychic moments, left a lot to be desired. The blurb wasn't particularly helpful either, warning us of
the serial nature of the killer beforehand, but also implying things that it just didn't deliver on.

Maybe it's because I'm a crime nut and I like to be able to solve the case with the characters, as it goes along, but it fell a little flat on that side of things. The romance was frustratingly non-existent. Just a little bit of flirting that led to a whole lot of nothing. And the constant hints at Hutch's “supernatural” talent were also frustratingly not explored or explained. I can't tell if he's supposed to be this super gifted profiler, getting into the mind of a killer or if he's genuinely supposed to have a psychic ability.

Either way, I was left with more questions that I had answers to. From Hutch's ability, the death of Noah's family (unsolved!) and Struk's dad (also unsolved!), I was just left feeling frustrated.

I think others will really love this, however. I'm being really critical, because it's a favourite genre of mine and I had high expectations. That's on me. I think that if you're already a fan of the author or if you want a not-too-intense read with no erotic parts, you'll be happy.

If you want a crime thriller with lots of twists and turns, with some hot, steamy parts in between, you'll be as disappointed as I am.

Depending on where the next book in the series plans to take it – how the blurb sounds and if it's the same characters – I'm undecided on whether I'll be continuing with the series or not. I certainly wouldn't rule out coming back to the series later, if the blurb sounded good enough.
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