Length: 442 pages
My rating 1.5 out of 5 stars
It wasn’t that the Monroe Police Department finding the decaying body of the ex-mayor buried in a field of the richest neighborhood in town wasn’t bad enough. Add to the grotesque mix the fact that their smart and very capable lead detective requires urgent appendix surgery, something he discovers at the site of the find, and the police department finds itself in a fine mess. There’s no love lost between the Chief and the local private investigator, Lea Fox; and that’s how Nick Thayne, an outsider to the city, a private detective, and an ex-cop with a reputation of being cocky and maybe even dirty finds himself assigned to the case. But the case goes deeper than anyone had thought and Thayne finds that there are many skeletons in the city’s closet. But solving anything means having to work with Fox, a woman he can barely tolerate but who holds the answers he needs. Fox cares even less for Thayne than he does for her. Yet, they are forced to work together and slowly, secrets begin to unravel. At the center of it all is Bouncer, a mysterious child who may hold the clues that ties everything together. But the clues may be coming too late for a town in which the bodies are only seeming to pile up.
I know that Bouncer has got a perfect rating by most of its readers, and near perfect by others. A lot of that has to do with the supposedly amazing dynamics of the main characters, Fox and Thayne. So, I guess I expected a lot when I began the book. And I tried really, really hard to like it too. But at the end of it, the book only managed, in my opinion, to climb to a 1.5 star rating. And the only reason I added that half star was because the story wasn’t half bad. It was everything else about the book that wasn’t great.
I’m going to begin with the relationship between Fox and Thayne. This aspect of the book seems to appeal most to readers but oddly enough was the part I hated the most. Why? Because the characters individually make so little sense. There is absolutely no consistency in their characters. Unlike most of my posts, I’m going to use an example here. Fox and Thayne go off to interview the dead ex-mayor’s wife. Fox complains in her head, as usual, that the lady in question barely acknowledges her and only focuses on ‘the male’. She berates the woman for being so judgmental towards ‘a woman’ and yet, she does the same thing to her! She instantly looks down upon her like she feels everyone does to her, only to appreciate her blunt style later because she associates with it. So my point here is – you can’t hate someone for doing something that you do too.
Then there’s the fact that Fox is downright unpleasant. The gist of her character, from what I perceived was this – she tried really hard to piss people off because she felt constantly victimized for being a woman (something that erupts from her issues with an overbearing father and brother) and then she hates people for being pissed off at/disliking her. That’s like saying I’m going to be an absolute b***h to you because I think that you think that I really am one, and then I’m going to hate you for basically seeing the truth which I shoved into your face! I mean… what??
Leave Fox aside and let’s talk about Thayne. The guy is okay. He’s understandably infuriated because his forced-partner has no basic manners and because he’s got a crappy family background too. To add a twist, he’s got something going on that makes you question his ethics. It gets solved well enough, but the twist was kind of obvious. Then, it’s made into too big of a deal. But the worst part was his inconsistency. He hates Fox, then he doesn’t, then he does, then he cares about her, and then he hates her again. Come on! That’s normal in human emotions, you say? Not when your varying opinions seem to be on the same matter.
Now, you put these two characters together and what many perceived as a funny yet interesting relationship seemed to me like an annoying one constituted of two stubborn children. Add the fact that the attitude of everyone involved seemed to belong in the dark ages and not in the era in which the story takes place and you lose all ability to associate yourself with anyone in the story.
Then there was the writing style itself. Wyss’ style is good enough but can get incredibly annoying when you are changing POVs in the middle of a paragraph! That just leaves you floundering about, wondering what just happened and puts a dampener in the pace of reading too.
The story was good and I thought had tremendous potential. But it got lost somewhere in the few too many characters (this can get confusing when you can’t associate with anyone), the randomness of the main characters, the strangeness of the setting, and the general odd execution. I have read a lot of mysteries – grew up on them, in fact – and things like too many characters or a really twist-filled story line can make amazing reads. The story of Bouncer had the potential to be just that. But it didn’t seem to fulfill that potential. And at the end, I found it to be a really disappointing read.