“A Perfect Sentence” by Patrick Starnes – Book Review

Desperately dissatisfied with his comfortable, middle-class life, and meandering through his days, Keir Buchan feels like he is just going through the motions of living. A writer of detective novels, he has just been made redundant from the University where he worked. His wife and teenage children seem disconnected to him. He has lost all of his joy in living…

“…because hope is for what – a not too unpleasant death?”

We follow Keir through a profound mid-life crisis. The fallout of his personal crisis affects many others along the way. Some to an intense and explosive degree.

If you are wondering why I included bubbles in my lead graphic, it is because much of the novel seems to hold Keir and Cassie in a bubble of happiness. We all know that bubbles drift for a few minutes – and then break. I was constantly waiting for their bubble to burst. And burst it did in an extraordinary and staggering way, showing just how fragile happiness is and how we humans are always precariously striving for it.

The writing was polished and skillful, not just for the first novel it is, but for any novel. It included vividly rendered descriptions of the many locales in which the book was set.

Although the characterization was well wrought, I found myself ambivalent toward Keir.  I felt no sympathy or empathy for his character’s situation. Just past his fiftieth birthday, he seemed to be shiftless, selfish, egocentric, and adrift…  In this instance, my feelings for Keir’s character was integral to my enjoyment of the book – especially since the book was written in the first person, from Keir’s point of view.

That being said, the author does seem to have an innate understanding of the suicidal mind and the depression that precedes it.

The title “The Perfect Sentence” couldn’t possibly more suited to this novel. It is in fact a ‘perfect‘ title for the book. Keep in mind that Keir is a writer and writers are always grasping for that ‘perfect sentence’ – also, a sentence can mean a punishment…

At the risk of sounding sexist, I think male readers might enjoy this book more than female readers.  I do not for a minute regret reading Keir’s story, but it wasn’t entirely to my taste. Many other readers and literary critics disagree with me as the book was nominated for the Whitbread First Novel Prize. If you’re looking for a novel that is well written and features a solely male point of view, then this could be a favourite book for you!

My gratitude to David from Thistle Publishing who provided me with a digital copy of this novel for review purposes.

Born in Montreal, Patrick Starnes studied Philosophy and English Literature in Canada and wrote his masters thesis on the novels of Samuel Beckett at Cambridge. He has traveled widely and at one time or another has lived in the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Greece, Spain, and England. He has worked variously as an aid administrator, journalist, freelance researcher, and college lecturer.

He is currently living in Italy with his wife Christine and dogs Mac and Mia.

“A Perfect Sentence” is his first novel and it was nominated for the Whitbread First Novel prize.

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, debut novels, Men's fiction, Thistle Publishing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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