Release Day Review: Splintered, by S.J.D. Peterson
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.
Good, But Too Many Issues
*THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD*
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
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.
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 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.
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.
FBI/cop for me.
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.
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.
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.