Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
Plot Development: 4/5
Plot Pacing: 5/5
Character Development: 3/5
Rating: 18+ for violence, profanity, and sexual scenes
Please allow me to start by saying that No Motive for Murder is so thrilling and addictive that I devoured the whole thing in one day. Although in terms of writing it has some serious flaws (which I’ll address momentarily), the story line is so engrossing that I have to recommend it anyways. Having previously read Fitness Guru, I am familiar enough with Hantke’s methods that i just knew there would be plenty of plot twists and a shock-you-to-your-core ending. I think this book is like one of those overplayed, earworm-inducing songs that you blast at full volume when you’re driving alone: it’s awesomely bad.
The story follows Dr. Gary Schaade, a psychologist famous for his books on serial killers. He is interested in how a serial killer’s mind work, but repeated interviews with death row inmates have as of yet failed to lead him to the holy-grail solution. While reading, one thinks that he doesn’t really want to find a solution so much as he wants fresh material for his research and his bestselling books. Gary continuously receives recorded “confessions” from people claiming to be serial killers, but most he is able to dismiss as fakes from wannabes seeking fifteen minutes of fame. When he gets a recording from someone calling himself Michael, he has his doubts, but when the confessions become more personal, Gary faces a moral dilemma: is he willing to be an accessory to murder and jeopardize the safety of those around him for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a connection with a real serial killer (who is clearly obsessed with Gary and desires nothing more than to be one of his research subjects)?
The subplot of Gary’s hanging-by-a-thread marriage to his wife, Sharon, was somewhat of a distraction. Although it does later become important to the plot, I feel Hantke could have achieved the same ending without having every slight provocation turn into an all-out screaming match. After a while, it’s like “We get it. They can barely stand each other. How many times do they have to call each other horrible names?” However, in their inner dialogue it is clear that the two still have feelings for each other and aren’t quite ready to give up. Things turn complicated when both are tempted by attractive acquaintances.The main plot contains rollercoaster-thrilling twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat, which is capped off by a superb ending. I do wish Hantke hadn’t relied so much on wild coincidences (identical vehicles, another person wearing the same clothing, a car accident involving the same person at the same intersection, etc.); I know he can do better than that.
Some of the characters rubbed me the wrong way and were developed inconsistently. Gary comes across as being as soulless and callous as the serial killers he studies. He seems to have little concern for his clients, and although he claims to adore his wife, he makes almost no attempt to save their marriage or try to see things from her perspective. The reader can see he gets a thrill from Michael’s confessions (including one where Michael described killing a homeless burn victim that he was falling in love with, and another where he spiked a classmate’s drink with sedatives for no other reason than the amusement of another classmate. The reader soon gets the distinct impression that Michael’s sole purpose is to screw with Gary’s mind), but is sickened and traumatized after witnessing a fatal car accident. And the story hints that part of the reason for the tension between him and Sharon was their childlessness. Gary doesn’t seem to being overly eager to be a father, but fantasizes a happy marriage with a promiscuous client who wants a husband solely for the purpose of having a child and seems to have no problem being a homewrecker. Sharon, for her part, is not much better. She comes across as immature and temperamental, making the reader glad she IS childless. It’s just hard to feel any sympathy for any of the characters.
There are editorial errors sprinkled throughout, as well as lots of awkward wording. They aren’t blatant, but there are enough of them that I would suggest that Hantke do another round of copy-editing. With some editorial corrections, plot and characterizations adjustments, No Motive for Murder could be a masterpiece. My suggestion to the author is to do another round of editing, and my suggestion to the reader is to ignore aforementioned flaws and just dig into the story. Even if he doesn’t, I for one will still continue to read anything he writes. Just like I will continue to crank up the Macarena when it comes on the radio.
To check it out: Amazon
Check out FitnessGuru.
Author Promo Co-op: No Motive for Murder by Doug Hantke: Genre: Suspense/Thriller Overall Rating: 3.5 stars Editing/Proofreading: 3/5 Stylistics/Linguistics: 3/5 Plot Development: 4/...