Life is good for Private Investigator Andrew Banks. He has a supportive and feisty girlfriend, his P.I. practice just opened doors, and he just took on his first case, hired by a 16-year-old girl. The case takes Banks on a dangerous ride with the Mexican cartel to save the girl’s family. Lives are at stake, and Banks must decide who to protect – his clients or those closest to him. Is it possible to protect them all? There is no question that Banks will always do what’s right.
Divided Within is the first in the Andrew Banks series, according to author John Guillen, and I’m excited to see where Banks will go next. I enjoyed the author’s voice for this particular work. My inner voice was prompted by his modern noir flavor, and it made for an entertaining read. The story is full of details that some readers may find annoying, but I enjoyed them, chalking them up as illustrations of Bank’s observant and meticulous nature. The storyline is solid, and all loose ends are tied up neatly.
I am also anxious to watch Guillen’s growth as a writer. His debut novel is not without flaws. First, I was unable to emotionally connect to the characters. I found it amusing that the book’s title was a bit of a stretch; the situation in which Banks should have actually been “divided within” only caused him to consider his options momentarily, and then he went on to do the right thing. That leads to my biggest issue with the story: no real growth of the main character. There really wasn’t growth from anyone. The author admits to basing most of his characters on real people, names and all, yet they are so lacking in dimension. Second, the antagonist is an interesting character, but to be a drug lord, he was awfully easy to beat. Don’t get me wrong; blood is shed, people are hurt. He is a mean man, and a mildly sneaky one at that, but he’s just too predictable.
Flaws aside, Guillen’s work shows real promise. The 22-year-old author has a nice handle on storytelling, and he has nowhere to go, but up. A writer of his talent will iron out the characterization issues with practice, and I’m confident I will see his name on the bestseller lists one day.