Review | A Memory of Grief | Dale Phillips

Don't let the very long preamble to A Memory of Grief by Dale Phillips put you off this book. The legal stuff, testimonials, dedication, acknowledgements and an author's forward all have to be read before you get to the novel: and I must confess I almost gave up. I prefer novels that start straightaway with a minimum of distractions. So when I arrived at the novel I wasn't in the best frame of mind for reading it and I almost stopped.

But I'm glad I didn't.

It was Maureen who made me change my mind. She is the ex-wife of Ben who is the best friend of Zack or rather was the best friend of Zack because Ben is dead. Maureen is pitiful: abused, down-trodden, working all hours God sends to keep her current boyfriend in a good mood. She sends Zack a letter about Ben's death which starts off a train of events that take you with Zack on a determined journey to find out the truth of Ben's death.

Zack is tough and uncompromising and nothing is going to stop him getting to the truth -or is it?

I'm not going to give away anymore of the plot except to say that I thought this plot was very well executed and I kept turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. The construction of the novel is complicated but everything stacks up and author Dale Phillips has done a good job in writing a convincing tale with some unusual twists.

The protagonist is Zack Taylor and he is a fully rounded character and as well as his tough exterior you get to know his more sensitive side too. The supporting cast are well drawn and in addition to Maureen there's a host of additional players from a variety of backgrounds including some seriously unpleasant characters that you wouldn't want to meet on a dark night in November.

I thought a great strength of the novel was its dialogue: it's sharp and real and provides much of the forward drive of the story. There are some scenes of violence in the book but not gratuitous. In fact some of the details of the fight scenes are quite fascinating and I guess that the author either engages in some form of "karate" sports or has done a lot of research. When characters get hurt they bleed although Zack demonstrates almost super-human powers of recovery.

The book is priced quite highly at £3.12p and there is something odd with the lay-out of the dialogue in places which is indented for no apparent reason. This doesn't spoil the story in any way but it takes a bit of getting used to.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Memory of Grief and I liked Zack Taylor sufficiently to want to read the sequel too. You get the first chapter of the sequel, A Fall from Grace, at the end of the book and it looks as though it will be a good read as well.

Update: June 22nd 2013

While browsing in the Kindle Store I noticed that Memory of Grief has a new price in UK: just £2.03p.
Well worth checking out at Amazon UK.