Thursday, July 26, 2018

Boy on the Beach by R.D. Maddux

Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Publisher: Ezekiel 12 Publications
Date of Publication: March 11, 2017
Pages: 304

Andrew Foster, a real estate developer in San Diego, is a man suddenly haunted by his past. Memories, like specters from his former life of sex, drugs and rock and roll have come crashing into his current world of business in this sunny coastal city. The ominous, repeated appearance of a black SUV at the beach where he meets his sister each week, has triggered fears that it’s payback time for a bad choice he made years ago.

To add to his frustrations, his hopes of a big breakthrough in the San Diego real estate market haven’t come to pass. He’s starting to wonder if his visions of success will ever come true when an investor offers to finance his dream project. Soon things start to fall into place for Andrew in business, life, and even love. He starts dating the beautiful and business-savvy Nicole but even with her at his side he can’t seem to shake the ghosts of his past. As the relationship with Nicole deepens, Andrew opens up to her about the many loves and adventures that have taken him from the crazy days of living in Big Sur and Joshua Tree to business success in San Diego. Her wise insights help him face the character flaws that have caused him to fail in his past relationships. 

Rounding out his social life is his once-a-week task of assisting his sister with her nanny job watching a young boy named Chandler. They build sand castles on the beach and enjoy the beauty of nature together. But the now ominous weekly appearance of a strange car at the beach has awakened Andrew’s fears. Is the boy in danger? Or worse, has an enemy from Andrew’s past come seeking revenge and now Chandler’s caught in the middle? 

A strange twist of events threatens to destroy Andrew’s dreams, but as he searches for answers, a sudden revelation offers hope of a future he never imagined.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars 

Boy on the Beach by R.D. Maddux is a moderately-paced yet suspense-filled drama featuring Andrew Foster as the protagonist. Andrew is a 57-year old real estate developer who is down on his luck in his professional life and filled with regret regarding his personal one. The one spot of joy for him is his weekly visits with Chandler, the young child for whom his sister is the nanny. When Andrew notices a strange vehicle that seems to be following he and Chandler, he wonders if Chandler is in trouble or if it's his past that is catching up with him or both! The reader is taken on an engaging emotional rollercoaster that alternates between present day and 37 years in Andrew's past to a surprising conclusion! 

I found the book's synopsis enticing, and I looked forward to diving into this story. The title of the book is a bit of a misnomer as it leads the reader to believe the book's focus is the little boy - Chandler. The actual story is interesting and pushes the reader forward in a quest to learn what's really going on in Andrew's life. Therefore, I think it would be better served with a more appropriately-descriptive title. 

The story is set in California, and it helps frames the plot. However, the author offers up acronyms and shortcuts without explanation for the non-Californian's benefit. There was an overabundance of the main character's mental or self talk. While each chapter changed perspectives from one character to another, the majority of the chapters focused on Andrew's perspective, and he often appeared a little whiny in his self-reflection. While an interesting character, I didn't find Andrew to be very likable. I honestly feel like some of what he received was just. 

As an African American blogger, I often try to read and review from that perspective. One interesting tidbit in the book for me was the description of Nicole, Andrew's love interest. When they first meet, in his mental talk, Andrew focuses on her age (40-ish) and her physical appearance saying she was "working hard to keep the wrinkles at bay." It made me pause and smile because being a 40-ish woman, wrinkles are not something I have to contend with. 

In many of Andrew's flashbacks he shares his experiences during the period of free love in which people pretty much did whatever they wanted with respect to sexual intimacy and drug use. The author provides some pretty detailed accounts of what it feels like to have an acid trip, making me wonder if some of this was autobiographical. Not to sound like too much of a prude, but I will never understand what people get out of drugs. The whole thing sounded rather unpleasant to me. 

At about the halfway point of the book, it's hard to discern exactly because the book contained no page numbers, the author finally tied the past with the present to get us to the peak of the action and make an understanding of the previously two disparate stories. The second half of the book takes the reader to the rather nice and tidy conclusion.  

RecommendationThis book kept my attention. I liked the story, but I think there could be some improvements to the structure and writing to help make this great premise a tighter, more enjoyable novel. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful. 

R.D. Maddux has story telling in his blood. Since he was young he’s always loved a good tale. He’s been writing seriously since he was in high school and college. His novels range from Mystery and Intrigue to Sci-fi/fantasy. With Boy On The Beach he’s set the story in modern America, to be exact, on the West Coast of California. He’s a native of the golden state and has been a resident of San Diego since 1987. Before that he grew up in northern California and lived in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area with sojourns in some of the beautiful parts of our state.

Living in California for over 60 years he couldn't help but watch the way things have changed in our culture and the impact this coast makes on the rest of America and the world. So even though Boy On The Beach is fiction, like most serious novels, it is not without a context and comment on issues we all face in our changing world. It takes place in real locations that are very familiar to him and its characters, which are fictional, no doubt have their counterparts in the real world. Boy On The Beach is a story of intrigue, suspense, revenge, love and redemption with flashbacks to the era when sex, drugs and rock and roll set our culture on it's inevitable journey to our present day. This idea has been rattling around in his heart and mind for a decade and it's finally coming to the page.

Connect with R.D.: Website | TwitterFacebook | Instagram

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  1. Thanks you Melyssa for your review. Have a blessed week.

  2. Great review -- I had many of the same thoughts in reading the book. I was very disappointed when Andrew suddenly took drugs again as an adult past middle age, but then I thought about it, and it didn't seem like he regretted any of his drug trips as a young man. I wanted more growth. And no page numbers made me insane. I agree that this book could go from good to great with more editing.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Kristine! Always welcome!

  3. Thanks for reading my novel. So sorry about the page numbers. I'm going to correct that. I appreciate your thoughts.

    1. I enjoyed it, RD. Thank you for writing! :-)