#BookReview Reckoning by Stephanie Baldi

Genre: Thriller

The D’Angelo’s past catches up with them when a killer avenges his lover, setting off a brutal storm of retribution.

Miguel Medina is determined to bring to justice those that took away everything he loved – Carmela and Natalia. Living in the outskirts of Arizona, Miguel broods on the day he will exact his revenge on the man he believes is responsible for his Carmela’s death – Nicholas D’Angelo.

Bobby, once married to Carmela, and racked with guilt over the brutal killings of the ones he loved the most, faces to lose even more. Working with his father Nicholas, they confront a formidable foe willing to do anything to hurt them.

The war continues between these two assassins. Revenge and hatred fuel the violent acts Miguel targets upon Nick’s family.

Meanwhile, other key players contribute to growing tensions. More secrets are withheld, bodies unearthed, and addictions threaten to consume everyone in its path.

My Review.

A character-driven story that at times sacrifices the progress of the plot. Although the synopsis alludes to Nick and Miguel being the main focus, Dalton and Bobby feature a lot throughout the story, perhaps even Dalton appearing more often than Nick. There is a large chunk of the story with Nick and Dalton struggling with their demons, and fixing up issues with family members through their unique skill set.

It is not badly written. The story is just bogged down with too much focus on the point-of-view of all the characters. There are some dark and suspenseful aspects to the story, they are just rare. Taking too long to get to the main premise, to the point it is easy to forget what the main premise is supposed to be.

Right off the bat you know who you are dealing with. The chapters are titled with the character that is going to be focused on. Making it easy to follow the rather long story, and the many characters that are introduced.

This is the third book in the series, I have not read the previous two, so playing a bit of catch up with the characters. The author does a great job of summarizing the general premise, and the way the characters are involved without bogging down the current story.

Miguel Medina, a troubled and dangerous man whose wife was murdered is unwilling to move on from the brutal attack. He uses his criminal skills to begin his calculated plan of bringing his lover’s family to his form of justice. Willing to go to any lengths, and using anyone to extract his revenge.

His plot for revenge sets the scene on what to expect from the story. Using his current lover Bianca to access areas he cannot.

Next Bobby D’Angelo comes into the story. A man who fell in love and was once married to the murdered Carmela, and raising Natalia, his and Carmela’s daughter. Although he appears a caring brother and father, he has a killer instinct – like his father Nick, and is still recovering from the massacre one year earlier.

Carrie, Natalia’s grandmother and Nick’s wife bathed in opulence, and everything a person would want still feels a sense of abandonment and loss. Abandoned by her father and suffering at a young age in cruel living conditions, she broods on approaching the man she blames for her suffering. Seeing her husband mentally suffering from the many deaths he was responsible for, they try to move on, yet the past keeps pulling them back.

Bianca, Miguel’s lover has her own secrets she is keeping. Yearning for another, she is clearly fearful of Miguel and what he is capable of.

Dalton is next in the firing line. Forced to keep secrets from his fiancé due to his criminal background, his life is closely intertwined with Carrie and Nick.

Then there is Veronica – Dalton’s daughter, Jack – Dalton’s brother… the list goes on. Over eight characters are introduced by chapter 8. Does the author balance this plethora of characters while progressing the plot? Unfortunately, no. In the attempt to cover all the character’s point-of-view, the actual plot takes a back seat.

Plots and subplots revolve around the different characters. The main plot is supposed to focus around the revenge angle; however, in the first half of the book there is a lot of focus on the subplots. Veronica’s subplot is actually the more interesting one, and probably the most suspenseful.

The balance is not quite right with the plot and characters. Revelations about the characters enhance the interest. I just think there is a little too much focus on everything happening with the characters, making this a longer read. Having multiple POV’s prevents a close connection with any character.

The characters all have interesting and complex backstories, each have shown they are capable of hurting others, yet on the other hand are loving people, torn up over the actions they felt they had to take. One problem in their veneer of appearing as a caring person – their homes, and everything they own stand upon are littered with bodies, figuratively speaking.

The main characters all have one thing in common – they are killers. An interesting way to phrase the characters. Despite that, Dalton, Nick and Bobby actually seem like decent men, just with a darker side to them, yet not taking joy in hurting, just doing it out of necessity.  Bobby’s and Veronica’s stories seem to reveal more about the characters than the other POV.

Throughout the story the narrative jumps from one character to the other. The first part of the book concentrates on character development, and seen there are a lot of characters, there is a lot of narrative and backstory.

In some ways this makes it easier for a reader to know what is going on without reading the other books. However, it takes too long for the actual story to progress.

Each character struggles with their own demons. Pulled down by resentment, scarred by abuse, and racked with guilt by actions that led to deaths. The past reaches out to grasp them in its spindly fingers, pulling them toward a hell they cannot escape.

The ending was rather predictable. Nevertheless, it did sum up the story cleanly, bringing closure to all the events that occurred throughout the story.

For those that enjoy a story with multiple character POV, branching plotlines, and in-depth character portrayal, you might enjoy this read.

Thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Stephanie Baldi for providing a copy for this review.

If you want to listen to this review and other reviews, you can can check my podcast on Spotify – https://anchor.fm/sharlene-almond

Published by sharlene25

Sharlene Almond is the author of the genre-bending Annabella Cordova series, and a New Zealand travel book Journey in little Paradise. She has written a range of health, writing and body language articles; contributing as a guest writer on other blogs. Over the last ten years, Sharlene has attained qualifications in Body Language, Criminology, Journalism, Editing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Pet Care, and Animal Behaviour. While setting up an online nutritional business, she is studying to specialize in Medicinal Cannabis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sharlene is also currently editing her second Annabella Cordova novel, with two others in the works. To support her online business, Sharlene sends out a trimonthly newsletter covering health, body language, writing, and even articles centered on health topics for your pet.

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