By: Rick Sulik
Detective Sean Jamison, months—maybe weeks—away from retirement from the Houston Police Dept., suddenly realizes he’s lived before, perhaps many times. While he works toward solving what he hopes will be his last case in THIS life (a serial killer murdering women in Houston), he’s also looking for the love of his LAST life, a woman raped and killed by a Nazi officer.
It’s confusing; I know. Yet, the idea of reincarnation mixed with a modern-day murder mystery was intriguing to me. So, I bought the book.
First, let me tell you what I liked most about it:
- Sulik’s story is very imaginative and unique. It is basically a cop/killer mystery with an added twist of re-incarnated lovers finding one another in this life after tragically losing each other in a past life. The story is both horrifying and frightening AND romantic and sweet all at the same time. I’ve never read anything like it.
- Mr. Sulik DOES have talent. When he paints the pictures of the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW details of the story they are sharply and artistically drawn.
- Most of Mr. Sulik’s characters (Det. Jamison and his co-workers for example) are honorable, witty and likeable.
Now, let me tell you what I had trouble with:
- On his way to work one morning, Det. Jamison suffers a blinding headache, pulls over to the side of the road, almost passes out and then—OUT OF THE BLUE—suddenly realizes he has been reincarnated. Not only that, he also instantly becomes aware that his lady love from his last life has also been reincarnated AND lives somewhere in his same city of Houston. He must find her at all cost.
- Uh… huh? Do those kinds of realizations always hit a person so suddenly and so completely, so cleanly without warning? Without a psychic reading? Without a magician’s hypnosis act gone wrong? Something…
I don’t mean to sound so sarcastic. Truly. I just found the suddenness of the revelation—and the fully realized scope of it—to be a little…unbelievable.
- I also had trouble with Mr. Sulik’s writing style when it came to conversations between characters. Their speech was always stilted, unnatural and the rhythm was all wrong. No one speaks the way these characters do. Words, phrases…they either didn’t fit the situation, the character or the time. Occasionally these Houston TEXAS detectives sounded more like Brooklyn beat cops, Boston gang members or Montagues and Capulets. NONE of the conversations seemed realistic to me. Every time I came across a tête-à-tête I was pulled so thoroughly from the story that I had to force myself to continue.
- There is a smaller side story in which one of the lesser characters falls in love with another in an afternoon, after knowing this man for years. She falls so completely and so hard… and so quickly…well, it was just so implausible. And, in my own humble opinion, it was an unnecessary “twist”. It really served no purpose.
- Speaking on no purpose. I hated–absolutely hated–one particular scene involving an assistant chief of Police and the media. NO PURPOSE TO THAT AT ALL! Ugh.
- Lastly, in the last few chapters of the book, the story becomes very …convoluted and just plain odd. Not only is Jamison re-incarnated along with his past-life mate and one or two others; one of the other detectives suddenly begins remote-viewing the killer and no one is surprised or taken aback in any way. Another detective suddenly realizes he knows the whole recent and past-life history of the killer—because of course, he too is paranormal. It just goes on and on…
Suddenly, toward the end of the book, DEATH UNMASKED becomes an un-authorized episode of X-Files—on Steroids! It’s just SO much, SO fast, SO…weird.
The wrap up is so complicated and long-winded that it’s entirely unsatisfying and maddening.
Here’s where it becomes complicated for me: As I was telling my husband all about this book over the breakfast table this morning I found myself defending it when he said, “I can’t believe you finished it. I would have just closed it and never picked it up again.”
“But, I kind of liked it!” I cried. That’s when I realized, right out of the blue (yes, I get the irony) that it wasn’t a bad book and I did indeed like some of it. I just think Mr. Sulik needs to work on his conversational writing skill. And, unfortunately, I think he went off the rails a little bit toward the end.
BUT…it’s a book with a great plot and a unique twist. I kind of liked it. Other readers may love it.
Just know going in that it is a book with issues.