Law, order and justice are the cornerstones of a civilized society. Without them, things can quickly progress to chaos and anarchy. That being said, justice can often be interpreted in many different ways, or be missing altogether. For instance, being falsely convicted of a crime which one did not commit is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice which exists. It will in turn lead to a lack of confidence in a justice system which is designed to maintain law and order. For that very reason, the purveyors of the criminal justice system will usually do everything in their power to ensure that the guilty are punished and the innocent go free. That is all quite a mouthful isn’t it? Well, if it has captured and aroused your interest, then Ill-Gotten Games by author B.V. Lawson could be a tale which is right up your alley. Murder, mystery and suspense are all jammed into an action packed short story which explores these very concepts.
Essentially, the story is about the trials and tribulations of investigator, Scott Drayco. He is given the task of helping to clear a supposedly innocent man who has been accused of murder. However, this turns out to be no easy task as Drayco is forced to engage in a bizarre treasure hunt to get to the root of the truth. Will he succeed in solving the case in time? Or will an alternative form of justice rule the day?
There can be little doubt that the plot of this story moves very quickly. It starts out in the courtroom to basically set the stage, but then primarily focuses upon Drayco and the bizarre investigation. The mysterious text messages he receives essentially direct his movements as he engages in a twisted scavenger hunt which he hopes will lead to answers. The plot is full of action which is compacted into a short story format. As such, the reader does not have a lot of time to “come up for air” and digest the main ideas in the tale. For me personally, this is a little distracting as I typically like to contemplate the plot of a story while I read. Nevertheless, the theme which focuses heavily upon justice prevailing is quite powerful and will keep the reader engaged throughout the story.
A number of characters are presented in the short story, but the main character, Drayco, is the only one who is fully developed. As the story progresses we are able to see him grow and we begin to develop a better understanding of Drayco and what drives him. We get some good descriptions of other characters such as the diminutive Benny Baskin, and the spoiled and warped Thaddeus Odom, but they are never really fully developed. This is mainly due to the story size and structure which is heavily plot driven. A longer story would have certainly seen these characters develop fully.
In regards to a reading audience, I would recommend this book to Young Adult and up as it certainly has plenty of action to keep all readers fully engaged. If you are looking for a quick and entertaining read, then this book is ideal. If you are instead, someone who is looking for a longer novel with full character development, descriptive and figurative passages to accompany setting, and the use of appropriate literary devices to set the mood, then this may not be the right choice for you. However, I did find it to be an enjoyable read and will look further for work by B.V. Lawson.
3 Gumshoe Stars for this one!