THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY by John L. Deboer-Review and Guest Post
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 15, 2015
Jack Lansing, M.D. has become a bestselling mystery writer. At a book-signing event he meets a foemer colleague who, unbeknownst to Jack, has carried a grudge against him for thirty years. Soon after, murders start popping up in and around Jack’s peaceful North Carolina beach town. The murders mimic plots in his books, making him a suspect. Jack must convince the police and the FBI of his innocence while trying to solve the mystery himself. Because, he realizes, he and his wife could be the killer’s final victims. It’s a chilling tale of twists and turns. But this time, Jack doesn’t know how it will end.
REVIEW: THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY is the third installment in John L. DeBoer’s adult, contemporary, suspense series focusing on Jack Lansing M.D. THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from previous storylines is imparted where necessary.
Told from first person point of view (Jack Lansing) and several third person perspectives THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY focuses on a serial killer or killers whose victims and murders are copycat killings from Jack Lansing’s best selling mystery novels. As the murders take on a familiar tone, Jack begins an investigation of his own suspecting the killer is someone looking for revenge from the past. Not one but two series of killings sparks the interest of investigators when all of the clues point to the premise of Jack Lansing’s books.
The secondary and supporting cast consists of many of the previous storyline characters including Jack’s new wife Erica; Erica’s ex Steve and his new wife Ann; as well as several members of various law enforcement from local police to the FBI. The requisite evil holds a long-standing personal grudge against Dr. Jack Lansing. The killer(s) is known to the reader; there is no mystery to the identity of the people involved but the suspense comes in the form of the expectancy for what is going to happen next.
John L. DeBoer weaves a fantastic tale of anticipation and suspense wherein our leading hero is, once again, both suspect and potential victim of a serial killer looking to even the score for a perceived wrong from the past. The premise is energetic and intriguing yet uncomplicated with exciting twists and turns merging several intersecting paths of murder and revenge; the characters are well rounded, charismatic and engaging. John’s style of writing is sophisticated, meticulous, and realistic.
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy
First Person vs Third Person (Or Both?)
The Sincerest Form of Flattery is written in first person for the protagonist, Jack Lansing, but in third person for the antagonist and the other characters. I have, though, written other novels that use only third-person narratives. So what determines what I use for a particular novel? Bottom line is, I don’t really know.
Interestingly, I realized as I wrote this post that my three novels using the first person all involved a main character I could identify with. An alter ego, as it were. So putting parts of myself into the protagonist perhaps unconsciously drew me to write him in the first person.
But getting back to the point-of-view options, I think that the first person brings a sense of immediacy to the story. The protagonist describes in real time his reactions to situations. This brings the reader into his space, his mind, rather than keeping the reader at a distance as an observer. This, in effect, coerces the reader to be the main character’s ally, or at least to give him the benefit of the doubt. (Other than that all my protagonists to date have been male, I use the male pronoun for convenience here.) This, though, necessitates that the protagonist be a character who, at a minimum, does not turn off the reader that will be stuck with the narrator for the entire book and will be tasked to root for him. And then there’s the disadvantage of knowing the story-teller has to survive whatever ordeal will face him, the opening narration by the dead William Holden in Sunset Boulevard notwithstanding.
Although we know who we’re supposed to root for usually in a third-person story, it lacks this more intense personal involvement with the protagonist in my view. Now, as I stated above, my first-person novels have also included third-person points of view for the other characters, and I write them in subjective third. This lets me have my cake and eat it too, because it opens up possibilities only available otherwise in exclusively third-person books. All-first-person works well for mystery novels, and my stories do have some mystery in them, but I write in the thriller genre. For me, being able to show the reader what is happening outside of the protagonist’s awareness is important. Nelson DeMille, Harlan Coben, and Scott Turow, among others who write in my genre, have used this POV combination. As has Stephen King.
Having actions and emotions of the antagonist and other characters come as surprises to the protagonist when realized can be exciting at the reveals, and it does create suspense as we, along with our hero, wonder what’s going on. But I think even more suspense can be generated by showing the other sides of the conflict. The “Don’t go down into that cellar!” tension has more impact, in my opinion, if the reader knows what lies in wait there, rather than guessing.
Aside from the alter ego thing I mentioned, I have no preference for writing either in all-third person or a combination of first and third. I’ve read good thriller novels written in first person exclusively (Harlan Coben comes to mind again), but it’s not a style I like for my stories.
~~John L. DeBoer~~
After graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, John L. DeBoer, M.D., F.A.C.S. completed his surgical training in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. Thirty years of private practice later, he retired to begin a new career as a writer.
When not creating new plot lines for his novels, Dr. DeBoer pursues his interests in cooking, the cinema, and the amazing cosmos. He’s an avid tennis player, and his yet-to-be-fulfilled goal is to achieve a level of mediocrity in the frustrating game of golf.
The father of two grown sons, he lives with his wife in North Carolina.