Review: Charlie’s Hoot by H. Trussell Pyle

charlieshoot“As a favor to his boss, Charlie, an ambitious teenager, uses high-tech savvy to trace the movements of a fleet of drug runners circling the Caribbean Sea. For his well-intended initiative, Charlie suffers a vicious beating and undergoes diabolical torture. His boss is the drug kingpin, posing as a respectable citizen in this Florida resort town. By day he’s the mosquito control director, by night he runs a successful drug smuggling operation. In mob tradition, family ties are important, so he buys a luxurious yacht for his sister, who belongs to a religious order whose members are nuns. She gladly allows him to talk her into running drugs for him because secretly she’s investigating the smuggling racket as her chosen religious vocation. The nun hopes her findings will break up the drug smuggling ring and convince her brother to go straight. Instead, she finds herself in deep trouble with the law. Meanwhile, the mosquito man manages to keep his smuggling activities a secret from the town’s police chief and the editor of its newspaper who are hot on his trail. The cop thinks that breaking the nun’s story of innocence will lead him to the kingpin. The newsman’s best source is Charlie, who once worked part-time at the paper. Complicating things, the nun falls in love with the police chief, who wants only to put her behind bars. Meanwhile, Charlie has mysteriously disappeared.” –

I had a lot of trouble getting into this book. At first glance the plot seems like an interesting one, but unfortunately it’s bogged down by a writing style that would fit better in a news magazine.  Which is to say that it’s told in a very objective, slightly distant way, which failed to make me care about any of the characters at all. In fact, the two main point of view characters, Bohannan, and Mackenzie, were so similar that I spent most of the book unable to tell them apart.

Which leads me to another sticking point: Charlie’s Hoot switches point of view a lot. I made a cursory count based on my notes, and the story switches between at least seven perspectives, most of which don’t do much to advance the plot. Having multiple POV switches within a chapter is distracting, and makes it harder to invest in the main characters.

On a positive note, the book has some beautiful descriptions, particularly of the natural beauty of the island. Pyle gives the reader an immersive sense of place; he clearly has a genuine affection for the setting and how it affects the lives of the characters. In a way, I think the island is the most engaging character in the book.

Charlie’s Hoot, for me, was the equivalent of a Netflix documentary.  It had its good points, and it was mildly informative, but I wouldn’t watch it if there were anything else on.

Title: Charlie’s Hoot

Author:  H. Trussell Pyle

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Publication: Outskirts Press (February 1, 2012)

Price: $4.99 (Kindle and Nook), $15.95 (paperback)


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