• Bella Dean Joyner

Book Review: Don't Let the Devil Know Your Name by Amy Cross

I want to preface this review by saying that I genuinely hate writing bad reviews of other authors' works. It not only breaks my heart but also makes me feel like a fraud for being pretentious enough to think that I have any right to judge them.

On the same token, because I am an author, I am a voracious reader. I can easily blow through four to five novels a week. A common occurrence in my house is my husband walking by and asking me if I'm still reading that book to which I reply, "no, this is my third." It is, of course, followed by him feigning surprise, but after almost ten years of marriage he isn't really shocked anymore. It's such an intrinsic part of who I am.

So the author in me doesn't feel right doing this, but the reader in me does. These same reviews that I write are what I read to compile my must-read list. The same stars I leave on Goodreads are the same ones I look for when searching my next favorite author.

And the author in me hopes, just a little bit, that an author some day may read my review and make a change in their work that might just make it stellar.

So, on to the review!

I've heard a lot about Amy Cross prior to publishing my own novel. She's a powerhouse in the industry, having written over 180 works. I have read one or two, but mostly just seen her name on the best-selling charts. I didn't quite remember my impression of her before, so I decided to do some research and pick up her new release for a review.

A couple of the comments on Amazon caught my attention. Specifically these two: "Get an editor, the mistakes in grammar are irritating and pull you out of the book."

"Have one small comment about the proofreader. Try a little harder to get things right."

Not very promising, especially since I'm starting my copy-editing certification classes in September. These sorts of issues within a novel are my wolf's bane, my nails on a chalkboard, my kryptonite. I literally foam at the mouth if there are multiple errors in any work I read. All you have to do is look at how many edits have been released for my current novel to know that I don't take these things lightly.

But...I ventured on anyway. The book is currently on Kindle Unlimited, or you can purchase the ebook for .99 cents and the paperback for $16.99.

The story line begins with a retired detective receiving an award, being proclaimed a hero, but his internal thoughts and hallucinations hint that all is not what it seems for Merrick Richards. As the story progresses and you are taken back to the first killing in Bridgeford, his obsession comes into full sway, endangering the lives of those around him, threatening his sanity.

Merrick, as a main character, is stunning. In the novel, he has just celebrated his seventieth birthday, not your usual protagonist. I felt that he was unique, sharp, and relentless. His dialogue with his coworker, John Sharp, was witty and fluid.

Cross builds her story artfully. Building suspense and making the reader question his or her own instincts is truly her craft, and she owns it. I found that I was losing myself in the story many times, which made overlooking the errors a little easier.

However, these errors that were also alluded to in the other reviews completely eclipsed all that was good in this novel. It was not just a misspelled word here or there...a "that" that was made a "than". Entire paragraphs composed of comma splices and run on sentences happened page after page. Misspelled words, misused words, and missing words littered the chapters like leaves on a fall forest floor. To put this into perspective, I only highlighted or made of a note of the most egregious errors, and Goodreads tracked that I had 24 notes and 25 highlights across what my Kindle says is a 246 page novel, front and back matter included.

As an example, let's take for instance something that will not give any important parts of the story away. Cross my heart. In Chapter Three, we find out that Merrick Richards is celebrating his seventieth birthday. In Chapter Four, we find out that his wife, Diane, is five years younger than him. Fast forward to the Epilogue which is set sometime in the future after the happenings of the novel, and the gravestones read that Merrick was born in 1929 and his wife was born in 1930. I was never the best at math, but I'm fairly certain that is not close to a five year age difference. Also take into account Merrick's death which occurs relatively soon after the story, completely understandable since he is elderly. However, his gravestone says that he died in 2019, over 90 years to the day of his birth. Impossible.

The lack of attention to detail makes this novel so much less than what it could have been. Repeated phrasing and overall lack of proofreading and consistent details just emphasized the rush job that this novel was, coming a mere seventeen days after Cross' previous work. I get it! As authors, especially in the horror genre, we are told that we have to rapid release and keep producing content to keep our readers engaged, so that they remember us and want to pick up our next novel, that too much time between works causes them to lose interest in us. But quite honestly, I would rather lose a reader than release something this subpar.

Unfortunately, I would not recommend this novel.

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