Tuesday, December 4, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Shoulders of Giants by Jim Cliff

     The Shoulders of Giants is a great first novel by British author Jim Cliff. Set in Chicago, it is told in the first person from the point of view of the very green private investigator Jake Abraham. Jake is a lover of the mystery fiction genre himself, and throughout the book thinks back to stories he read in his youth. 
     He takes his first case looking for the daughter of a disgraced Chicago Police Captain, who at the peak of his career lost everything, and now his daughter.  When she is found dead, he keeps Jake on the case, doubting the Chicago police will do him any favors solving the murder.

     Cliff jumped into the plot without much buildup. While at first this worried me, thinking he would be incapable of any character development or deeper story telling, it worked very well. The book moved quickly, plot was complex, and there were lots of red herrings to keep readers guessing. I could be in the minority in this, but I liked that Jake seemed to play by the rules, cooperated with police, even worked with them and shared ideas, instead of going rogue as so many other detectives in the genre. I also liked that some relationships were what they appeared to be, and not a deeper part of the plot in a genre where betrayal is often the norm. It kept Jake much more real to me.

     Although I enjoyed the book, it was not without some shortcomings. Foremost was the use of British slang; takeaway instead of take out, straight away, dressed smartly, ear defenders instead of ear muffs or ear protection, and having a bath instead of taking a bath, for example. Perhaps it's only noticeable to American readers, and it didn't change my enjoyment of the book, but since the novel is set in Chicago and from the first person point of view of an American, I would have expected a more American way about the writing. 

     Another thing that bothered me was the author's discounting of the bright light emitted by a handgun fired in a dark room. This would have had a small impact during one seen in the book.

     Overall, the likable and real characters, great plot, and Jim Cliff's writing ability make The Shoulders of Giants an excellent novel. Considering it is his first effort, I look forward to great things to come.

Cliff, Jim. The Shoulders of GiantsCreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 13, 2012)

ISBN-13: 978-1477642658

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