Twisted is a lot of fun - but it is also a beast to review. Pretty much anything you say will be a spoiler of some sort or another.
What we can say: JT LeBeau is a multi-million selling crime writer whose identity is secret. Twisted purports to be a novel written by LeBeau (whose name appears at the top of every recto page), and the introduction says it might be found on either the fiction or the true crime shelves. Twisted is a novel by LeBeau, about LeBeau. Unsurprisingly, it is full of twists.
The writing itself is not that great. The characters don't feel fully formed, the location - Port Lonely and Bay City (presumably the greater Tampa region in Florida) don't quite feel real. Looking back, I'm not sure exactly what motivated the characters to do the things they did. But all this is forgivable for a plot that involves huge paradigm shifts and generates a visceral sense of tension.
I came to Twisted on the back of a couple of tough reads and this was just what was required to inject a sense of fun back into reading. Hence five stars for a book that might only really merit four...
Eddie Flynn is a lawyer who used to be a conman, likes to cut corners and especially likes to surprise the establishment.
Joshua Kane is a killer who is determined to get on the jury for the murder trial of Bobby Solomon, an up and coming film star.
Thirteen is told in dual narrative, with Flynn narrating in first person and Kane's point of view being narrated in third person. Occasionally they narrate the same scene from different perspectives, which is either quirky or repetitive. But for the most part, the action is pretty arresting and the novel drip-feeds information to the reader piece by piece. There are red herrings, there are puzzles and games. And there's also an improbably high body count.
Thirteen is, I guess, supposed to be a bit of fun. Nobody would believe that a serial killer like Kane would actually exist; whether it is his inability to sense pain, or his lack of apparent motive, or his ability to support himself with no visible means of income, or his ability to "sign" his high profile murders without being noticed, it is not an exercise in reality. Whether or not the reader enjoys this is likely to depend on whether disbelief can be suspended long enough to go along for the ride. I just about managed it and am glad I did.
Yes, the novel is corny and cliched, It does rely on a killer with almost supernatural capability (except for the occasional Scooby-Doo style clue left lying behind), and it does rely on Eddie Flynn being able to spot these blindingly obvious clues that other, more illustrious investigators have missed.
It is also worth saying that this is the fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series - a fact that I did not know when I accepted a galley copy of the text. You wouldn't really know except, perhaps, Flynn's back-story is a little thin - presumably having been covered in previous novels in the series.
Pace-wise, this is a fast read for a novel that is not short, The chapters are short and snappy; there is an insight into jury selection and jury politics that is not common in murder-thrillers. And though the twists and tricks are corny, they are well done.
If you like this sort of thing (and I do), it is a solid four star read. If you want something more authentic, try Sergio de la Pava.