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Life was ugly. At twenty-five, Will Chisholm had learned that a long time ago. Half Cherokee, he had already been a mixed martial arts fighter, a war hero, and an undercover narcotics cop. But after his personal tendencies get him shot in the head, he is fired from the Boston Police Department. Now, as a struggling private investigator in New York City, he takes on the case of a murdered stripper but quickly realizes it is a setup to frame him as a serial killer.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 6.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Will Chisholm is a private investigator with a rough past and a weakness for sex with beautiful women. When he becomes embroiled in a mystery surrounding the death of a stripper he previously encountered, he must unravel the circumstances to clear his name. SEL is a well-developed, unapologetically seedy detective story with a hardened lead character and twists readers won't see coming. 

Prose: Howard's prose strikes a bleak, somber tone, which mirrors the circumstances and environs of the novel. The narrative blends police procedural elements with details from the detective's troubled history as he attempts to clear his name and determine who set him up. Explicit details of Chisholm's sexual encounters can sometimes come across as overplayed, but are in keeping with the novel's framework.

Originality: A hardened former cop grappling with demons is familiar territory. Howard writes capably, though, ultimately offering a dark and compelling mystery.

Character/Execution: Will Chisholm isn't an especially easy character to root for. For his many off-putting qualities, however, his candor is refreshing. A large cast of unsavory characters fill out the often ugly NYC underbelly, but many are more defined by their outward personas than any true humanity.


Date Submitted: May 23, 2023