Blind Eye Books, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-935560-36-4
Paranormal Fiction, 2015
Jasper Keely “JK” Lassiter comes to a quiet Dallas neighborhood to get away from his past and have some kind of normal life. JK, you see, has psychic powers that he can’t fully master. When he touches things, he can experience visions, sometimes of unpleasant things. Our hero wants to prove to his boss and himself that he is capable of flipping an old house, only to flip out when he discovers that there is a brutal murder linked to the house. Worse, the hot guy next door, Nick Collier, may be involved somehow. Can JK sort out this mess and get a happy ending?
Renovation has a simple plot, one that doesn’t break new grounds – if you have read any story involving murder and psychic powers, this one doesn’t contain too many surprises. The narrative is clean and the plotting is fine, although things can be a bit slow at times. Still, it is hard to muster much enthusiasm for this book as it falls on the too pleasant side of things. The good guys are goody-goody but bland, and I am never moved to actually care for them. The author’s style, while readable, doesn’t quite engage me – there is something about the tempo of the narrative that feels unchanging, a flat line, so much so that when things are supposed to shift from low gear to “Oh, this is supposed to be the moment of suspense!” gear, things still feel the same and I never find myself getting a little worried for the characters or something like that. Even when the killer is revealed, the scene feels so muted, polite – everyone may as well be discussing the weather over tea in this scene.
The romance, by the way, is not the main focus of the story. Like the rest of the story, though, Nick and JK are bland characters with all the depths of two smiling emoji characters so I don’t particularly care for the romance. I can live with it, I can deal, but I’m hard pressed to feel anything beyond that.
At the end of the day, nobody would feel great pain from reading Lane Robins’s Renovation – it’s nowhere as bad to create that kind of effect. At the same time, it’s nowhere memorable to stand out. In some ways, it may be better if this had been an awful book, because at least an awful book sticks to the mind, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons. This one just washes off me and leaves so little impact that I doubt I’d remember much about it a few days down the road.