The Grave Tracker - Teresa Brown
I received this book last year. I decided not to publish this review at the time (November) because of feedback from the author. However, now that enough time has passed, I believe I can publish this review as the criticism was that I reveal too much of the story here. So, if you don't believe in spoilers. Do not read the review. It contains spoilers. I think that's enough fair warning for readers. Please continue if you're okay with spoilers. Thanks!
What would you do if your son escaped a high-security mental facility and you know he's going to come and get you? You'd hire a hit on him, of course! This is my first criminal novel is a while (if ever, I'm not sure). We follow the life of a murderer who escapes from a mental prison and sets out to kill his father for putting him there. The next person we follow, the actual Grave Tracker, a retired officer who can find even the slightest hint of a person long forgotten. Hence the name. Note: This book is for adults, it contains some violent scenes.
There are several "main" characters in this book, but only four that we sort-of follow. Firstly, there is Tony, the deranged son who is hell-bent on killing his father, Joseph (a tough guy who has money with connections throughout the justice system). Tony is a smart dude who wants revenge and will stop at nothing to achieve that. He looks for his lost son so that he can play the ultimate slow-game revenge on his father, and the main reason for this story. Tony wasn't mental until he escaped into the real world. His one-track mind over all the years he was kept away for crimes (he did commit), has rotted and tortured his mind. Now, he takes it out on whoever he wants or whoever gets in his way.
The next person we follow is Tony's father. We learn he has a lawyer friend who he leans on, and why he trapped Tony away all those years. I found him (Joseph) quite an arrogant character, with a sense that he looked down on people. He's the one that calls on the skills of our next character.
Paul is the Grave Tracker. Paul has been injured long ago and never returned to the force. He has a dog named Waya, who is trained and creepy. Waya and Paul go everywhere together when Paul goes on his tracking missions. He typically doesn't track people who are alive, but with a murderous villain, our hero is willing to go to the extra effort. I found Paul quite stereotypical, based on my movie watching experience, so I found nothing really "fresh" or unique about him.
The last person we follow is Sophie, who is the (not so obvious but you know it's coming) lover. She's Tony's son's new mother (if that makes any sense). She's split from her ex-husband and lives alone in a cabin rental place near some woods. She's a single parent who seems to be overwhelmed by her duties as a mother and manager. As a character, I found her strong and I overall I quite liked her and her adopted son, Jake.
My guess at the major theme in this book is revenge. We see this on multiple occasions, such as the main storyline of the book. A boy sent to a mental facility by his father. Feels betrayed. Plots his revenge. Many years later, escapes and tries to exact his revenge. BUT, there is a plot twist, and I'm not going to reveal it. Revenge is not always the answer, and maybe you should think it through before you rush headstrong into your little plan (I know you're hatching one up right now).
The second theme I'd like to discuss is family. Kind of a different idea, but there is so much about disjointed and disconnected families in here. Firstly, we have the rather bad father-son connection. Secondly, there is the Grave Tracker without his wife, raising his daughter. Lastly, there is the "divorcee" Sophie with her adopted son. The one thing the last two (not all) have in common, is that the families work. You can find love and life anywhere you choose. You can decide to give a better life to your grandchild (as Joseph did). Family comes in all shapes and sizes, and no one size fits all.
While I enjoyed the novel, it did play in my head as kind of the stereotypical criminal films I've seen over and over. It was quite easy to predict what was going to happen (most of the time). However, in saying that, I found it easy and mostly enjoyable. The characters felt quite natural (apart from Tony), and I could settle into the book quite well. I would recommend you give this book a try.
Note about this review
I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).