My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: I have many words to spare on the content and portrayal of this book, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be at all. I went into “Poison Shy” with the idea that it might be a decent murder/disappearance mystery, even with maybe some tough depictions here and there, but not on the level of the mediocre plotting and over the top shock effects that were in the duration of the book.
At this point in time, I’m the only one giving this a single star as far as the ratings go on multiple review sites. It really wasn’t worth the read and certainly not worth the price it’s noted for on E-book or the paperback.
I’m a little glad I waited a night to write a review for this particular novel because I think it would’ve sounded more heated if I had written one right on the heels of finishing it. I think I understand that Stacey Madden’s sort of going for the shock jock writing style that I’ve seen in authors like Chuck Wendig and Scott Sigler, where there’s much material that pushes the envelope for people. I went into it thinking that this would be a decent murder/mystery/suspense/thriller novel with some elements of sex and violence that would be like a pulp noir novel, but I wasn’t expecting this harried, offensive mess. No plot, no humor, no likable characters, and certainly no kind of directive, everything was just shock for the sake of fantastical glorification and I wanted to julienne this book regardless of it being a digital copy. It does so many things wrong, it’s hard to know where to begin.
I suppose it’s best to start with the 29 year old protagonist Brandon Galloway – an exterminator who isn’t quite right in terms of his particular background. In the beginning, he makes it clear to the reader that he was involved in a murder disappearance of two women from the town he used to reside/work in and the novel then goes on to explain his background and interactions with these women. Much of this information is told to the reader, going back as far as his childhood to adulthood days, and while it was an easy read, it really didn’t make me feel all that much for the character – it felt too clinical, detached, and cliched. Still, considering I was flying through the prose, I kept going. I figured this would be a dark story, with the protagonist being a bit of a hapless detective hero (possibly?). But then when I came to the actual story, I had to step back.
Am I really the only person who thought this book was a piece of fantastical, non-funny, sick crap? Really? I can take very dark humor, I can even take some frank situations, I’ve read my share of pulp noir, but this book just didn’t do any of what it set out to do well. There’s no story here or cohesiveness, and the book is just flat out offensive for the sake of being offensive in a glorified way – misogynistic, slut-shaming, gay bashing, ableist slamming, and an utter offense in portraying women, sex (including a man who broke into an apartment to enact a “rape” in order to scare a female character but noted he actually “wasn’t going to rape her, just scare her”), among other things. And it throws all that in with no story, no true mystery, no true stakes, and no resolution. There was no humor or true psychological depth to this, just a haphazard, passive male lead going from one plot event to another and not even having an ounce of realism to it. It really didn’t have an ending, and the characters didn’t have an ounce of likability. I couldn’t even believe that after Melanie enacts a sexual encounter while the MC was half-sleeping involving her period blood, and he learns he contracted an STI from her, that he goes on to still sleep with her, despite him being freaked out.
I just…no. Just no. I don’t think there’s enough brain bleach to wipe the memory of some of these scenes in the book for me. It’s a short read (under two hundred pages), but after a time, it just became a chore to read not only for the glorified shock elements, but the lack of a comprehensive plot. I was so glad to be done with this book.
I wouldn’t recommend it. I wouldn’t even recommend it knowing that it’s priced at $9.99 for the e-book/Kindle copy, and $17.95 (variable) for the paperback. It’s not worth the money. There are other decent thriller, dark humored, pulp mystery/suspense books out there. This just wants to be seen/shocking for the sake of being seen/shocking and it is not cool.
Overall score: 0.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher ECW Press.