Before This is Life, I had last seen Jack heading off for a break from life as he knew it. He had sorted out the situation involving the death of his deadbeat friend Ralph while pulling his own albatross of a drug habit off of his own neck. This is Life is a well paced cop show style thriller that takes Jack back to the loose threads of the first Jack Palms story.
This is Life starts with Jack coming home to find his bed burnt with an assailant on the premises. Mills, the old cop who helped Jack navigate through waking up and investigating the death of Ralph, needs Jack’s help to look into the connected return of Jack’s former KGB nemesis who survived the first shit storm climax that left Junius dead and Freeman unemployed. The assassination of a crooked cop via a fifty caliber slug that pokes holes in the cop’s not-a-K-car modern Mustang brings the consequences of Jack’s involvement in the local San Francisco underground home to roost.
Seth Harwood, the author, has a unique marketing strategy and brings his full talents to this, his third book and second of the Jack Palms series. His style is a clean narration of the events with short punchy chapters that drive the action forward. I stumbled across his existence with a fluke of chance when I began googling people named Seth. All of this is posted previously and you can look into some of that by clicking the first link in this post or putting “Seth Harwood” in the search box on this page.
This book is faster than the first two books. With Jack’s background established effectively in the first book, Jack gets thrust into the adventure with so little preparation that he still needs a haircut when the book starts. Sometimes life calls you to act before you can tame the accidental mullet.
I have had a lot of focus issues these days. One symptom of this is the gaps between my blog posts. Another symptom is that even though I have kept up with my book purchasing, the only books I have finished are Young Junius and This is Life. To make my point a little deeper, this is the year I’ve tried catching up on Game of Thrones to see what all the fuss is about. Either my meds are still off or the George Martin fuss might be about nothing I’m into. I’m willing to use my lack of Martin interest to support the idea that there are few books these days that I feel compelled to keep reading. One of the reasons I think Seth is such a page turner is that his style feels a lot like watching a series of something like 24 without ever having to break for the commercials. And in that gimmick free style, I can pay attention to every round loaded into every chamber throughout the story’s progression.
I probably wouldn’t recommend reading This is Life as your first book especially since I liked the first book so much and that book puts Jack into perspective as a rejuvenated version of a Hollywood has been. I haven’t read the short stories yet but I have them and I will. When I do, I’ll review them and whether or not they are better read in order or if they are fine in an encore capacity.
That’s all a long winded way to say if you haven’t read either Jack Palms books or you simply haven’t read the new one, you’re in for a treat. It’s the best one to date and a good chance to see what Seth Harwood is all about. If you’re motivated by catching a rising author on the way up, you better move fast, he’s gaining momentum. Now to see what he comes up with next and maybe look into his In Broad Daylight, his short stories and what I think is the continuation of This is Life in the Kindle book Czechmate. I’ll keep you posted.
*** Update January 4, 2012 ***
It turns out that Czechmate is included in the physical copy of This is Life. If you finished This is Life via Kindle, then you should finish the job and read Czechmate, too.