“Lamentation” by Joe Clifford – Book Review

Lamentation” is a snow covered mountain overlooking the Northern New Hampshire town of Ashton.  What could be prettier?  But Ashton has some serious flaws.   Just like royal icing hiding cracks in a cake, the snow hides those flaws – until a murder precipitates events that make them all too obvious.

When I chose the novel I assumed that the protagonist was ‘lamenting’ something and was surprised when I realized that I was only partly correct.  Prosperity in Ashton ended before our protagonist, Jay Porter, was born.  A town past its heyday, struggling to survive like many small towns everywhere.

Jay’s childhood was cut short with the death of his parents in a car accident when he was eight.  He and his brother Charlie have struggled ever since.  Charlie is older than Jay, but Jay seems to be the more responsible sibling due to the fact that Charlie battles with drug addiction.  Jay, on the other hand, is somewhat gainfully employed with an estate clearing business.  Hard manual work which seems menial for Jay – a bright, thirty year-old man who has never realized his potential.

Jay’s relationship has ended painfully.  His girlfriend left one day with their two year old son when she could no longer endure the demands that Charlie made on Jay’s life and the way that Jay always sells himself short.   Jay is devastated by her leaving.  He still adores Jenny and their son and his divided loyalties torture his daily life.  Now he lives alone with a cat that he has never bothered to name, believing that by not naming him he won’t become too attached.

When Charlie is involved in a murder investigation, Jay once again comes to his aid.  Only this time he has become involved in something that could affect all of their lives.

Lamentation” is a fast-paced thriller with themes of lies, avarice and corruption set in a small town where one influential family will do anything to maintain their power.  A family who consider anyone who impedes their goals to be expendable.  An enjoyable read that could have benefited from a wee bit more editing (eg. “if shudders weren’t dangling by their hinges”).  Obviously this should have read ‘shutters’ – and perhaps this was caught in the final printing.

I commend the author, Joe Clifford, for turning his life around.  He was a homeless junkie for several years.  His experiences during that time helped him paint an intimate, disturbing and realistic character for Charlie in the novel.

Fictionophile rating:

Thanks to Oceanview Publishing via NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of the novel in exchange for this review.

Since getting off of the streets, where he spent most of the 1990s, Joe Clifford has made writing his life. He is a “rock ‘n’ roll” writer who comes from a cutting-edge background and has successfully transitioned to the mainstream, which allows him to keep afloat in both worlds.

Joe Clifford is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books, managing editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive, and producer of Lip Service West, a “gritty, real, raw” reading series in Oakland, CA. Joe is the author of four books (Choice Cuts, Junkie Love, Wake the Undertaker, and Lamentation), as well as editor of Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Stories Based on the Songs of Bruce Springsteen.  Joe’s writing can be found at www.joeclifford.com.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Men's fiction, Mystery fiction, NetGalley and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Lamentation” by Joe Clifford – Book Review

  1. SDCB Steph says:

    I like books like this and it seems like the setting is perfect for this time of year. Thanks for the review.


  2. skyecaitlin says:

    Great review, title, premise and setting. I am interested in this.


  3. Diane Coto says:

    Nice review. Sounds like something I’d love reading. Thanks!
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews


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