CLUB MEDicine by Jack Kinsley

Published: 13th February 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
RANE Books
Pages: 309
Format: Ebook
Genre: Thriller
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

What drives a reasonable man to commit murder?

Travis Martin was the great American success story. A former addict who started the premiere private rehab in the hills of Malibu, California, he had it all: a thriving business, a beautiful wife, and a daughter who was the center of his universe. Unfortunately, when his recovery took a nosedive, everything he built went right along with it. Now, he has a rehab filled with eccentric clients he’s expected to keep sane, a dark secret he’s desperate to keep hidden, and forces from his past that are determined to strip him of anything that remains.
What’s a self-made man to do? Backed into a corner, Travis finds himself stuck on one moral question: Can he commit murder in order to keep it all from slipping away? How far down the rabbit hole will he go? And, perhaps more importantly, how does he come back from it after that life is gone?

Part thriller and part redemption tale, CLUB MEDicine explores the heart of darkness within us all as one man balances on the razor’s edge between self-actualization and self-destruction. 

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

This was a hard story to pin down, even rate. It has good moments that piqued my interest, but there were also mundane moments that I didn’t see a need for. But Kinsley connects it together well and depending how you look at it, everything plays a part in telling Travis’ story.

The characters are eccentric and have a range of problems, and some characters grow on you much more than others, but Kinsley keeps it interesting with various aspects and dramas of rehab life. The centre is the focus and connects characters, secrets, and plot development, and contains most of the drama that unfolds. Travis is also a closet drug addict himself which brings in a nice sense of the blind leading the blind and a nice case of irony, and it is a key part of the unfolding events, consequence, cause, or otherwise.

For a thriller I felt there wasn’t as much of a focus on that element. It came and went, but there was a lot more time given on the events, ordinary and otherwise, in the rehab. Granted it is connected, and seeing Travis operate in the centre and his drug addiction on top of that was a key part, but I felt the thriller aspect didn’t shine through until the very end.

There is a steady pace to the story that has rises of suspense throughout but instead of a solid thriller with a sense of gaining momentum to something bigger, Kinsley has focused on the psychological unravelling and desperations of a man trying to hold onto his reality, but in a self-focused and inner dilemma rather than have it constantly play out on the page.

It was more watching a man’s life be on the brink of crumbling and seeing him fall further into despair before finally reaching desperation. Having said that though, I didn’t feel the intense desperation I think Kinsley was aiming for. It read as a huge leap to planning murder but at the same time I understood it, which was weird. Even though Travis runs through his options and realising he is being backed into a corner, I didn’t catch a sense of urgency in the tone of the narrative despite the words telling me there was.

There are some great and surprising moments though. The story is actually unexpected and Kinsley keeps it going with a few surprises and hints at secrets and dark pasts that are withheld until the right moments. This unexpected nature makes the intermittent moments of suspense work because it does just suddenly happen, but it’s the rapid resettling into routine that is unsatisfying.

It is hard to judge a novel before finishing it which is where most of my notes came from, and I think the end is where the story finds its footing, everything falls into place and the story unites into an unexpected, thrilling conclusion. The final moments allow you to see the clues placed throughout that had gone unnoticed, and with everything linking up it shifts your perspective and opinion on how you saw the story, but while it solves some mysteries and shows off creative writing, other issues remain.

I liked the ending in as much I think Travis got what he deserved. There are consequences and lessons, and having not had much sympathy or real care for him through most of the novel I liked that he didn’t get off scot-free but got a chance at redemption, and being on shaky ground with those around him is a good solution. Condemning him entirely would not have felt satisfactory and Kinsley balances adequate punishment, the right thing, and hope nicely.

You can purchase CLUB MEDicine via the following

Amazon

Amazon Aust

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