Title: Joe Cafe
Author: JD Mader
Publisher: Lockjaw Publishing
Format: Kindle Edition
Rating 0-100: 97 (5 Stars)
The murder at Joe Café is an abomination. It stops the entire universe. For Michael, it tarnishes everything, including his badge. For Chet and his hostage, it is the beginning of a chase that will lead them through dingy motels and the darkest corridors of their minds. Dogan just wants Sara back. Jimmy the Cat wants to make up for all the time he has wasted. Frankie wants to live a ‘moral’ life, erasing everyone in his path who does not live up to his standards. Conventional notions of good and evil quickly blur as they are all forced to look into the mirrors they have avoided for so long. Chilling and horrifying, whimsical and wretched, Joe Café’s cast of broken characters try to find their way in a world they never understood to begin with…for the Chens, it is easy. They are dead.
I first came across JD Mader from a guest post he made on the Indies Unlimited site. He has since become a contributing author on their staff. His weekly articles are written with an honesty that is rare. I was a fan of JD Mader long before purchasing this book. With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s the good-bad-ugly of Joe Café.
This is not a book that I would let my children read. As a parent it’s my job to protect them from the evil in this world, and make no mistake about it, this book is filled with evil. It’s also wonderfully written.
Every character in the book goes through a transformation. The good cop goes a little crazy. The crazy killer has moments of tenderness and yearns to be more than he is. The stripper, club owner, and even the mob boss all see life from a different perspective by the end of the book. Say what you will about the dark theme, it takes mad skills to pull off what Mader accomplishes in a short amount of time.
This book is a rollercoaster ride of emotion. In some ways it’s not unlike passing a car wreck on the Interstate. It’s hard to look away, as much as you might want to. Some of the scenes in this book are so graphic that if it were made into a movie, it would either be regulated to Pay-Per-View or win an Oscar. There is no middle ground here. If there is such a thing as a ‘fine line’, then I can assure you that Mader has no problems crossing it.
And that’s the good. Here’s the bad.
There were several times, especially in the latter part of the book, that I had to back up to see which character the scene focused on. A few of the primary characters had similar traits; cursing and drinking. Nothing wrong with this, but I did get confused a few times. Of course, I should also point out that I read the last quarter of the book in bed with the flu. It may have been the fault of Benadryl.
And now for the ugly.
This book will take you inside the mind of a psychopath. If that’s not someplace that you can handle, then you will not enjoy this book. The curse words may turn some off as well. However, if you put yourself in the same situation as these characters it’s seriously doubtful that you will be hurling Disney lines.
This goes back to the honesty in his writing that I mentioned earlier. Mader does not shy away from getting inside these characters, and he gives them a voice that rings true to the situation.
Would I recommend this book? For my children, no. But I would recommend it to my friends and fellow writers. It’s a great read, and if you are a writer, it should be a textbook on how to create rich, compelling characters.