[Book Review] Grak: Private Investigator – Joseph J Bailey

Grak: Private Investigator front cover.

Title: Grak: Private Investigator
Author: Joseph J Bailey
Published by: Independently Published
Publication date: 19th Feb 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 234
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle
Series: Orc PI

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Blurb/Synopsis

The city of Alyon is in trouble.

Its citizens are turning into monsters.

Not the good kind of monsters—terrifying, bloodthirsty, flesh-rending, citizen-killing monsters.

When Grak’s favorite barkeep tells him that he will get a lifetime supply of free alcohol if he can figure out why the bar’s patrons are disappearing, Grak is on the case!

Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Goodreads brought Grak: Private Investigator to my attention when I added a plethora of Orc related books to my ‘Want to read’ list. I fancied a change of pace from the usual Orc book that was on offer and Grak: Private Investigator seemed to have it all. Honestly, the blurb sold it to me!


Grak: Private Investigator sees the titular character, Grak, investigating the mysterious occurrences of various of the city’s denizens turning into monsters. In a city that’s already plagued by monsters, these ones are the sort that you don’t want hanging around your favourite bar! So when Grak is offered a lifetime of free booze if he can bring the punters back to the aforementioned favourite bar, he’s all over it!

Grak is an absolutely fantastic lead character. He is exactly what you’d expect an Orc Private Investigator to be; terrible! He’s entirely in it for the booze and when his preferred method of solving crimes, head-smashing, doesn’t pay off, the plot thickens and things get interesting. I could live for Grak, I’d love to read more about him and get to know him a bit better – I’d love to see him shine to his full potential. But, I am not convinced about reading the rest of this series.

The world-building in this novel is extreme. There are so many varied and interesting layers to the setting that it often gets a bit confused. Everything is either magical or technologically advanced. To make things worse, there are gnomish creations in here. Gomes make everything overly complicated, but add that on top of an already complicated setting, it’s all just that bit too much. This is why I appreciated Grak so much; he is delightfully uncomplicated compared to the rest of the book. He just wants to bash heads, have drinks at the bar and generally have a decent time of life! Along the way he makes a couple of friends; a hanger-on Dwarf, an eccentric Gnome (aren’t they all?) and the Bartender that hired him. They all have their own flavour, but I didn’t really get the connection between them all or what they really brought to the table other than being tag-along’s that find Grak, usually when he is unconscious partially buried in mountains. Or being eaten by toilets…

Grak, is an Orc in the traditional sense – he lights fighting, isn’t the brightest spark and solves problems by charging at them head first. But, he’s not a tribal sort, he’s left all that behind him and wants to make his own mark on the world; which he often does by getting physically flung into various mountains, rocks or buildings as the story progresses! This book is a lot of fun. At points, I was laughing out loud to myself. There was a good flow in some sections of the novel that were magical in themselves and honestly, the imagination of the author is outstanding. I just feel like it all needed reining in a bit at times to let the plot work itself out.

The plot. I lost the plot. I thought that I knew where things were going, what was happening, and how things were panning out. Then it all came to a very sudden end and I was left thinking, ‘What, what just happened, is that it?’ It was honestly, a rather jarring mess that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. I think the plot suffers a bit from one of my favourite aspects of the story. The sense of humour. It’s so dry and sarcastic and I loved every second of living in Grak’s head because of this sense of humour, however, at times his thoughts derailed the story and it was hard to get it back on track again.

I was eager to find out what was happening, and why the varied cast of creatures of Alyon were turning into monsters. I think, fundamentally, I get it. I understand what was happening and why, but the journey getting there was a bit too convoluted and derailed that I feel like I am missing something.

And the eventual ending involving Grak’s brother just dipped a bit too far into the realm of ‘too silly.’


Summary

This book has so much going for it. The lead character is absolutely fantastic! I adore him. He makes me laugh and he’s an Orc! Perfect! Sadly, the rest of the book doesn’t sit right with me. The plot is all over the place and the setting, while beautifully rich, is very complex and everything just gets a bit confused. I might try the next book in the series, because, as I said, I love Grak, but I’m not going to rush into it.

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