Stalking, art, software, and murder. But more than crime, Paper Targets is infused with nature and solitude and unwraps big questions about why marginalized people sometimes do bad things. A runaway involved in computer crime, and a stalker who confesses through her art to murder, have their paths collide while both are struggling to understand their failures in love. This is a fast-moving literary novel about money buried in the mountains of Montana; a wise bail-bondsman who lives in his pickup; a detective who draws lines between incorrect assumptions; art; murder; and redemption. Enzi, the son of immigrants, is severely dyslexic and bullied. At 14, he hitchhikes away and finds sanctuary in the space of the Western outdoors. Over the next several years of desolation, he discovers he has a gift for understanding complex math. Enzi's self-taught abilities lead him from a drifting existence into a world of wealth and corruption. However, when Enzi becomes involved with a stalking artist whom he bails out of jail, he starts to question everything he has ever done.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.00 out of 10
Plot/Idea: Paper Targets is a compelling story, with a simmering pace that picks up from the first pages. Readers will be immediately invested in Enzi's fate, and Saroff expertly intensifies the plot through unfolding backstories and quiet tension.
Prose: Lyrical yet succinct, Saroff's first person narrative is well crafted, granting readers an inside view of Enzi's sentiments.
Originality: Saroff's voice is original and skillfully mixes genres covering mystery, noir, and suspense.
Character Development/Execution: Saroff's characters are immersive, equal parts raw and delicate. Pascal is a standout, and readers will quickly take to his character. Although Kaori is central to the plot, her outlandish personality becomes distracting, often conflicting with readers' inside knowledge of Enzi.
Date Submitted: August 18, 2022