Sunday, 15 December 2013 19:48

"Barely Breathing" - Michael J.Kolinski

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Barely Breathing

Barely Breathing, by Michael Kolinski, has so many good reviews on Goodreads that I couldn't help but purchase it. I must admit, I had high hopes.

The story tells the tale of an early-thirties gent named Jake Woods who, after surviving a mass murder, is pulled from a deep depression by his distant cousin Jana who invites Jake to her California home for a visit. When Jake arrives, she is nowhere to be found. As days pass, Jake becomes increasingly worried, and he begins to search for a cousin he doesn't know so well.

Jake believes himself to be a bit on the innocent side, as he does hail from Iowa, and unprepared for the search. Fortunately, he's intelligent, resourceful, sarcastic, and borderline mouthy. A former wrestler, he can hold his own in a fist fight, he's got biceps for days, and his looks are movie star or, at least, porn star handsome.

His girl Friday is Laurie Summers, Jana's best friend. She has a heart of gold and a bit of baggage, and she is dedicated to locating her friend.

Jake is an affable character; he and Laurie have an easy chemistry that permeates the book. As central characters, they are both pleasant to be around.

I was a bit distracted that almost every time Laurie was introduced into a scene, Jake reminded me how breathtakingly beautiful she was. Is this girl Aphrodite incarnate? Finally I got it. Jake was mesmerized and I was supposed to be as well.

I also had a couple "nit-picky" issues with the book. One was was the tendency for the author to telegraph – he'd tell us there was going to be an upcoming problem before the problem occurred.

The other issue was the lead character's tendency to ramble, muse, and share thoughts that might reveal character but didn't move the story along.

For me, both of those tendencies robbed the book of what I wanted most: Tension!

Jake's cousin is missing, for crying out loud! I'd imagine the search for a missing person would be an exhausting emotional frenzied search – especially if there are bad guys involved, especially if you didn't know if you were making the right choices, and especially if you thought someone had been murdered. Yet the story didn't create any tension until about page 188. Some of which wasn't as harrowing as it could be because of statements made earlier in the book (or the author's affinity for making comments that deflate the energy).


I could see Laurie's face now. Her mouth was hanging open, and she was gasping for breath. Her palms were bracing against the dashboard, leaving wet stains. She was sweating through her clothes. She was doing better than I.

"You okay?" I asked.

"I liked it better when you drove like an old lady."

Really? A murderer is rushing the car and that's what the characters say?

Unfortunately, lines that seem incongruous with the scene abound in the story. (I began to think that the author preferred dry-wit to tension. No problem. He's the author. His choice. Right?) What tension the book has lasts for about 50 pages, and then the book moves back into its slower pace.

This isn't to say that the book isn't good. It was just paced a little too slowly for this reader.

Let me add, there is a jaw-dropper toward the book's finale, and the final chapter is a sweet ending. Overall, I enjoyed Mr. Kolinski's style, and I would definitely recommend the book for the mystery-lover. My sole request is the next time I read a mystery called Barely Breathing, I'm able to hold my breath from anticipation as I turn each and every page.

Last modified on Sunday, 15 December 2013 21:11
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