Title: Voted Least Likely
Author: Aaron T. Knight
Genre: Murder Mystery / Thriller
Voted Least Likely is the story of Baxter Bindle, a seemingly innocent and harmless man who finds himself framed for a crime he swears he did not commit. The ensuing investigation provides a picture of money laundering, abuse of power and, underneath it all, the age-old story of a man trying and failing to live up to the expectations of his father. Readers will soon be left wondering if everything is as it seems. Could Baxter Bindle really be the perpetrator, or is he the victim?
Baxter is a character that you can’t help but root for. The author took the time to draw a full picture of who he is and what he’s been through even though it took readers away from the main narrative for a short period of time. His chaotic childhood and emotional abuse at the hands of his father, not to mention the bullying and fat-shaming he endured, all upped the emotional stakes and made him instantly sympathetic and easy to relate to. Furthermore, it was done in a way that felt natural and uncontrived.
In fact, one could say that character sketches is one thing the author does particularly well. Even the secondary and side characters leap off the pages, as he finds a way to write them in a way that sticks to one’s memory. The writing is humorous and witty. Even when there’s a lot of information being given about financial espionage and money laundering to build the bones of main story, even when the story went in a slightly different direction than one might expect from a book that is meant to be a murder mystery, the writer’s easy way with words manages to hold the story together.
It was evident that there were so many things that the author wanted to do with this book. The basic premise is interesting enough on its own, one can never go wrong with a whodunit after all. However, the plotting could have been done better to support the story. There are instances when less definitely is more, as is the case with this book. While some plot elements were interesting to read in isolation, for example, when we read about the revolving door of women that Baxter had been pressured into trying to impress, it wasn’t always clear how this added to moving the narrative forward.
Part of what makes a murder mystery such a popular genre is because the readers fancy themselves to be armchair detectives. They want to spot clues and figure out the real culprit, or they want to be misled by red herrings and be taken by surprise when the inevitable plot twist is revealed. There could have been more of that here, more breadcrumbs to lead the readers to take a guess at the book’s conclusion and give them that satisfying ‘Aha!’ moment. In this way, the readers would have been as invested in solving the mystery as the police and Baxter himself, and the ending would have made more of an impact.
Fast paced and as convoluted as any good mystery should be, Voted Least Likely will take readers through sudden twists and unexpected turns alongside a memorable protagonist whose story will resonate with a lot of people. Anchored by an author who has the unerring ability to turn out prose that is crisp and humorous, readers are in for hours of entertainment. Overall, a solid effort and a welcome addition to the murder mystery genre.
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