Thank you to author James Simon Wood for providing me with a copy of One With the Grime at the Bottom in exchange for this honest review.
One With the Grime at the Bottom is a noir thriller starring a novice stripper in a new town. A small town girl gets breast implants and makes her way to the big city to start an exciting new life. In her first week she witnesses a murder and gets far more excitement than she desired.
A shooting happens at her strip club and she escapes the killer briefly. Just when she pauses to catch her breath the shooters kidnap her. They explain a complicated plan to pin the murders on her. Why they don’t just kill her as a loose end I never once understood throughout the entire novel.
The plot is convoluted and motives are hard to understand. I just kept thinking that the only explanation is that the criminals in this underground crime world must be very stupid to let things get this out of control. This is not a well oiled mafia machine. Everyone seems to be on a different page working toward conflicting goals.
Morgan, our hero and patsy, is just as confused as all of this plays out. As characters are introduced to her the reader gets just as little exposition to explain who they are and why they’re there. We are forced to make a lot of assumptions and fill in a lot of gaps.
In addition to the underdeveloped characters we also parallel Morgan’s experience as scenes change very abruptly and it almost feels like we’ve also blacked out from a head injury, waking up in a strange new room with no explanation. Jumps between chapters feel like losing a chunk of time and are disorienting.
Throughout the uneven storytelling there is a compulsion to find out what happens and see the novel through to the end. It’s so complicated that there is a hope that all the pieces will fit together and make sense by the final chapter. Eh, some of them do I guess, certainly not all.
Gritty crime thrillers like One With the Grime at the Bottom need to establish the rules for the underground. Most of us have little to no experience with large scale crime and need it spelled out a little. We also need the innocent main character to be relatable so that we can somehow place ourselves in this strange world. Sorry Morgan, I just would never let myself get into this mess.
The action packed novel has the seeds of entertainment but needs to build up the slow scenes in between. We all love action but we also need to be invested in the characters and story for any of it to matter.
3/5 high heels 👠 👠 👠
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