Book Review: The Buchanan Bastard by Dedre Stevenson

I love a good mystery; all the twists and turns really capture my attention. So I was eager to read Dedra Stevenson’s The Buchanan Bastard. And I got a bit of a thriller in the mix as well!

1. Thoughts on the plot

This book follows Laura Buchanan after the shocking murder of her husband, Brian, heir to Buchanan Oil. Framed for his murder, as well as pregnant, Laura must try to figure out who really wanted her husband dead, be it his half-brothers, enemies of his own, or someone much more sinister. With help from her father, Laura traverses the world of long-hidden secrets and the Russian mob, all while trying to keep herself alive.

This book started off as I would expect from a high-drama mystery. There is a murder, an intimate (family, in this case) is framed, and that intimate must try and solve the mystery before they’re put behind bars. This book took that premise and pushed it a little further, edging into the territory of thrillers. There was a lot of mob involvement, as well as some international activity that really took a straightforward frame job and made it quite dramatic. In general, I like drama. This book, I think, had plenty of that, but it also kept escalating the stakes. I don’t mind a bit of escalation, but when it is continuous, when the ending is so far out of context with the beginning, it feels a bit contrived. A bit more Hollywood-ready than book-ready.

2. Thoughts on the characters

I liked most of the characters in this book. Jim, the murder victim’s half brother, especially was fascinating. I think that this book did well in showing a lot of different people from different backgrounds. Unfortunately, Laura, who was meant to be the main character, was a bit of a throw away character for me. She didn’t really do a whole lot except for worry about solving the mystery and being pregnant, which felt a bit more like a plot point to me than anything. She had such potential, especially being a high-society lady; she could have easily been steel-spined and capable rather than relying on others to help her. Still, she wasn’t a character I disliked, either. She just felt more like part of the plot than a distinct personality.

3. Favourite part

I think the set up of this story was excellent. The first fifteen percent or so just laid the groundwork exceptionally and I was really drawn in.

4. Critique

Honestly—and this is definitely a subjective opinion that not everyone will share—this book felt more like the script for a movie to me. I like to read the internal thoughts of a character, the details of the world, the things that are often glossed over in a script because they’ll be seen in the final film. This book had some of that, but it also felt more like a script, where the focus was on big grand gestures and actions than the minutae. That is absolutely a personal preference, and I know not a lot of people will agree with me. I’m just more fond of books than film, I suppose.

Overall, I think this book was interesting and entertaining. I liked the twists and turns, and while it had a bit of an excess of drama, pushing it beyond the realm of believable, it was definitely entertaining. A good read.