Book Review: Deviant Acts by J.J. White

Deviant ActsDeviant Acts
J.J. White
Black Opal Books, November 2015
ISBN: 978-1-626942-85-1
Trade Paperback

A road novel, a saga that takes readers from Charlotte, North Carolina to Vermont, New York, Mexico, Albany and many points between. We follow an inept former marine who was booted from the service for various illegal acts. Now a civilian, Jackson Hurst has become a destitute low-level criminal, doing and selling drugs, burgling his neighbors and driving his mother slightly mad.

But Jackson Hurst has a singular asset, a very wealthy aunt who needs his help to locate her adopted daughter, Cheryl. She’s willing to pay Jackson a lot of money, finance the search and even set Jackson up as a private investigator, a job for which he appears to have no particular talent, if he will just find Cheryl Ebert and bring her home.

Naturally with his troubles and knowing he’s hunted by several law enforcement agencies, he agrees to find Cheryl and bring her back to the Vermont mansion. And so the story begins. And now we start to learn that Cheryl is not merely a runaway. She’s been a member of the Weather Underground. The novel begins in 1973 and ends in 1977. The road trip is long and littered with nearly every deviant act one can imagine one human perpetrating against another, mostly violent and costly.

The plot is convoluted and clever, the author’s writing style is sometimes puzzling and shifty, but it’s fair to observe that his style serves the novel well and once readers become comfortable, it should prove not to be a problem. The novel raises some troubling questions and because of that and Hurst’s sometimes cavalier approach to certain deviant acts like killing, some readers may be uncomfortable. That said, I found Deviant Acts to be a worthwhile reading experience and do recommend it.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2016.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.