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Monday 28 September 2020

✍ Eye For Eye: Talion [1] - J.K. Franko

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published 16 March 2019 by Talion Publishing
Number of pages: 434
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆  It was memorable  
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Eye For Eye
|| Synopsis || Trailer || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author ||

"What would YOU do if someone hurt the one you love?

Roy and Susie are the perfect couple, an ideal family living a fairy-tale life... until their teenage daughter is senselessly killed.

Just as they’re managing to put that tragic loss behind them, a complete stranger approaches Roy in a bar with a drunken proposal—he invokes their daughter’s memory to ask Roy to kill a man.

All is not as it seems, however, and Roy and Susie soon find themselves navigating an intricate web of deception, betrayal, and revenge.

Can Roy and Susie outwit their hidden enemies? And what secrets lie buried in their past that could destroy them?"

"Eye For Eye", a crime thriller, is the first fiction novel published by author J.K. Franko, and it is not one for the faint hearted; deep philosophical questions are raised in this novel, where murder and revenge are key.  Lex talionis, a.k.a. talion, is the law of retributive justice, dating back to ancient Babylonian law (Hammurabi's code) and to the Old Testament, "where the punishment should fit the crime, in degree and kind to the offense of the wrongdoer".
Thus shall you punish wrongdoers. 
So that all who hear of your actions shall tremble and cease to do evil. 
You must show no pity: Life shall pay for life, eye for eye, 
tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. 

DEUTERONOMY 19: 19-21 
This is the basis of the Talion series, which begins with the Eye to Eye trilogy, now complete: Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth, and Life for Life.  

The Trial of Joe Harlan Junior
 is a short prequel, written in the third person, which gives further insight into the catalyst for the series: the alleged rape of teenager Kirsty Wise on Halloween night in 2015. 
"What would you do if the law failed you?

The college Halloween party was supposed to be a night of fun, dress up and laughter, but for Kristy Wise, it quickly became a night of horror.

Read the story. Witness the testimony.

Is everything that comes after justified?

YOU decide." 
This novella literally covers the subsequent criminal trial, in quite a novel and fun way as it is an expanded adaptation of a short play (about 40 minutes, excluding credits) which took place in April 2019 in Covent Garden, London, for the launch of Eye for Eye; the reader can either choose to read the transcript of the proceedings, or to watch a live performance of it, and then resume the story at page 50, which covers the jury's deliberations and verdict, to then rejoin Kristy and her family in the aftermath of the trial, preparing us for what will be set in motion in January 2018 in Eye for Eye

I thought The Trial of Joe Harlan Junior was well worth a read, and we enjoyed the five-part play featuring the author, J.K. Franko, as the trial Judge; we also did engage in a debate on whether Harlan jr. had done it!  For maximum enjoyment, read it, watch the play and decide whether justice was served before starting Eye for Eye which will reveal the whole truth.

In Eye for Eye an unknown narrator recounts and reflects on events in Roy and Susie's lives; he claims to have learnt much of it, including many personal insights, from them, but we have no idea who he is or why they spoke to him.  The opening sentence of the prologue sets the tone:
"When I try to piece together how this whole mess began, a part of me thinks it may have started over thirty years ago. At least the seeds were planted that far back, in the early 1980s. What happened then, at that summer camp in Texas, set the stage for everything that was to come."
Some chapters follow law enforcement and their investigations; at times these also include interview transcripts.

Beside the main storyline, sub-plots, twists and turns unfold, and whilst some were predictable others were hard to see coming.  Although the book ends with a revelation that sets up the next instalment, Tooth for Tooth, Eye for Eye can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Franko's prose is engaging and to the point, without any padding; every sentence, every detail is there for a reason.  The first time I read the book the first part felt a little slow as I could not yet see the bigger picture; the second time I devoured every word.  

The characters, situations and locations are incredibly vivid; you are there with them, sharing in their actions and emotions, and by the end of the novel, as a reader, you feel that you know these people.  The author's legal and business backgrounds, as well as his local knowledge and copious research, come through to make the plot completely believable and effortless despite its complexity; only the very last set of circumstances seem unlikely, but still possible.  At every step, the reader is challenged with implicit moral questions: 'what would you do?', 'how far would you go?' , 'how far is too far?', 'what defines justice, retribution, revenge and murder'

Careful and intricate character building, and suspenseful story weaving are what make this novel stand out, as much as its ability to be thought provoking.  It is a rollercoaster ride.

If you are a fan of the TV show Games of Thrones be aware that the first chapter starts with a major spoiler to season six (2016) which is the premise that kick-starts the entire series of events that affect the lives of Roy and Susie, the main characters of the Eye for Eye trilogy.  If you care about spoilers, be sure to watch season six before reading this book.

Expect some strong language, and strong topics, including date rape, bereavement, mutilation and, of course, murder.  Some parts do read like a manual to commit the perfect murder.

Eye for Eye was without a doubt memorable (it had me hooked twice) and I am about to dive into Tooth for Tooth.

[ARC received via Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours]

About the Author

J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect.

After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder.

After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D.  He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.

His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, EYE FOR EYE became his first published novel.

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.

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1 comment:

CMash said...

I am SO SO jealous. I have these books but just can't find enough uninterrupted time to read them, because all the reviews I have seen, I know that's exactly what I need.