Book Review: Adeline by Mark Torres

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Adeline
Mark Torres
Indie Owl Press, 2019

♦♦♦
3.5 Stars

 

For readers looking for a thriller flavored similarly to HBO’s series True Detective, Mark Torres’ novel Adeline may by up your alley. However, such a comparison is only casual, as Torres has written something entirely his own crafting a lead character, Savoy Graves, who is compelling because he feels real. Also, throughout Adeline we are fortunate to avoid all the ham-fisted tropes of noir and contemporary crime novels by simply allowing the plot to work as a procedural through time. Adeline‘s greatest strength is how deftly Torres is able to weave his narrative together from different settings more than four decades apart. There is no moment readers feel out of place or, if you will, out of time. Instead, just when it appears readers know more than the characters, the story turns down a darker lane.

Savoy Graves is an ex-attorney who has gained some notoriety as a private investigator (see Torres’ debut novel A Stirring in the North Fork). Savoy is living a nearly idyllic life when he gets a phone calling requesting his help in solving a 40+ year old cold case–the death of the eponymous girl while in a mental institution. Drawn to the case, Savoy enlists the help of his wife and the duo proceed to hunt down the facts of Adeline’s death. It is important readers know Torres opens the novel with the crime itself–a brutal sexual assault and murder written from the victim’s point of view. It is very unsettling. However, if readers can make it through, they’ll find themselves as motivated as Savory to reveal the identity of the predator. 

Torres is able to maintain the tension of his story without giving over to needlessly gruesome moments or falling back on tired gender and racial stereotypes. This is a breath of fresh air in the genre. For example, readers will find that Savoy and his wife Lola are true partners on the case. This isn’t just some quirk; it’s necessary as the couple delve deeper into the case exploring the eerie ruins of an asylum and discover evidence of a strange cabal. At this point, the novel moves into nearly unreal territory. The Order of the Tempest is an elite organization bent on pure anonymity for its members so they can conduct themselves in any fashion they want–which means acting with impunity towards the rule of law and respect for human decency. As the Graves reveal how Adeline was murdered and staged to appear as a suicide, they find themselves enmeshed in a dark world looking to silence them. 

Ultimately, Adeline is a novel of perseverance, of having the moral courage to not just seek justice but also rectify deep wrongs. Torres’ prose is fluid and easy with a good balance between information told and action shown. Each of his chapters are short and, while not dense, are loaded with information readers will want to go back to see how the web of the plot was before them the whole time. Readers who love crime novels and mystery thrillers will be pleased to discover Mark Torres’ heroes in Adeline.

 

 

 

About the Author

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Mark Torres is a husband, father, attorney and now internationally known author. Mark is a labor and employment attorney who tirelessly represents thousands of unionized employees and their family members. He received his JD from the Fordham University School of Law and his BA from New York University.

A Stirring in the North Fork was Torres’ debut novel, and in 2017, he released a Labor Union related children’s book entitled Good Guy Jake.

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