Brad Spencer’s new novel, The Upshot, has recently been released. The author did a great job of contacting. He sent an email and made it personal, talking about information I had posted on my website. Shows some homework was done. He was looking for an honest review. I agreed to read and review his work. He sent me a paperback, and as soon as it arrived, I started reading. (Paperbacks / Hardcovers will get priority reviews over eBooks — just saying).
The Upshot tells a compelling tale about three friends. Sam, Cuddy and Holly. They grew up together, were close through high school. The protagonist, Sam, is our main guy. He’s always had a thing for Holly. Unfortunate events during their senior year changed the relationship between all three forever. Lack of reaction killed any chance for the three of them to continue on as close friends. Slowly, each went in a different direction. The past, never far behind, delivers haunted memories as constant reminders.
When bad news about Holly reaches Sam, he contacts Cuddy and the two decide it is finally time to do something to right the wrongs that had been left unattended. Through a series of flash-backs, and present day chapters Sam and Cuddy find themselves submerged in strip clubs and drugs, gangs and dangerous weapons. Everything leads them closer to dealing with the past once and for all.
Tight writing, excellent dialogue and well-drawn characters makes The Upshot a mostly enjoyable and entertaining read. The plot is easy to follow. I worried flash-backs might kill the pacing. They did not. Spencer does a nice job continually building suspense. I kept turning pages. At 203 pages, I knocked the novel off in two sittings.
Unfortunately, I have two issues with the novel. First, (and least of all), while the novel is told in thrid person, some portions are in first, from Sam’s point of view. I didn’t mind it too much. It was mildly confusing and just slightly more annoying, if only because I had absolutely no idea why it was being done.
My second issue is more extreme. Keep in mind all the great things said above about this book before you read any more of the review. The last sixty or so pages of this two-hundred and three page novel are all action. Well done action, mind you. Until the climax. I do not want to give anything away. Despite the fact that Sam makes some declarations in the first chapter, the ending falls extremely flat. Spencer denies his readers any satisfaction. The end is told in passive voice, past tense, it is all TELL and no SHOW. I felt terribly robbed, cheated. And even worse, it wraps up in about 200 words. The main “battle,” the anticipated climax is over in 200 words. It turned a potential 4 1/2 Star Review into what should be a 2 Star Review. All because of what I’ve explained in this last paragraph.
I contacted the author. I respect his explanation for why he ended the book the way he ended it. Over all, I loved it, and his writing. Unfortunately, respecting his rationale and giving this book a review better than deserved cannot happen. Spencer understood, and wanted me to proceed and write, and publish the review regardless. While I personally would prefer not to write this review, I applaud (and again, respect) the author for seeking, wanting, and accepting MY truth. This is all based on MY opinion. Nothing more. It is only what I think. It is one review only. The Upshot. Brad Spencer. 3 Stars.