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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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West, C.J.: Sin & Vengeance

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

I waited an unconscionably long time to read this book. It's been sitting on my shelf for several years, watching me read other books. I suppose I wasn't expecting much from it: The cover image doesn't scream "read me!" There are a lot of words squeezed onto each page, so that the book seems forbidding, far longer than its 240 pages (in my edition) would suggest. The title is overly dramatic. [Edit: The book has since been rereleased under the title The Winemaker's Son.] But I finally started it and, well: Wow! By the end of the first chapter I knew I was in for a great read.

Charlie Marston is a likable guy who's recently graduated from college, where he studied oenology and chemistry with a view to joining his father's winemaking business. But lately Charlie's been sowing his oats with a troublemaker, Randy Black, who's exactly the sort of guy Charlie's father doesn't approve of: Randy is an amoral hedonist and a thrill seeker who's almost certainly going to get Charlie in trouble if he continues to hang around with him. One night, something terrible happens, and Charlie's life turns on a dime. Randy, he comes to understand, is a dangerous friend to have. Just how dangerous becomes increasingly clear over the next months.

I don't want to give anything away by being more specific in the above summary. Suffice it to say that the book was spellbinding. The plotting is brilliant, and Randy is an exquisite character, an evil genius for the modern age. I had some problems with the very end of the book. The resolution seemed too tidy, things resolved too easily. And I'm left with a couple plot-related questions that, unless I missed something, weren't answered in the book. (What was the deal with the plane? What finally happened to Sebastian?) But up until the very end I'd say the plotting and pacing were flawless.

The author's web site reports that the book has been optioned for a feature film. That's excellent news. I kept thinking while reading that it was the sort of story Hitchcock might have filmed. It reminded me a bit of Scott Smith's A Simple Plan in that it follows what happens when a regular guy is thrown into a very unusual situation. But it's not really the same sort of story, because the events in this book are being manipulated rather than happening naturally as they do in Smith's story. It also calls to mind Patricia Highsmith's Ripley series because of the sociopathy of Randy Black, but Randy is not as fleshed out as Tom Ripley, nor as sympathetic, and he's much more evil. Still, fans of both of those authors will probably enjoy reading Sin and Vengeance.

Comments

1.

Wow! Sounds like an amazing read. You've really whetted my appetite for this one.

2.

Debra, Wow, I was really surprised to see your review after all this time. I'm glad you enjoyed the book. It has been optioned for film and adapted and we hope Sin & Vengeance will be filmed next year by a small production company.

The questions you have (about the money, the plane, and Sebastian) are answered in other books. Technically, Taking Stock is the first in the series and both the plane and the money are explained there. The fates of several characters are explored in my sequel to Sin & Vengeance. The book is called A Demon Awaits and it has been out since October 2008.

So glad you enjoyed the book. Your readers will be glad to know that the cover and the interior of this book were updated long ago and so newly purchased books should be much easier on the eyes.

CJ

3.

Thanks for the update, CJ, and Clare, thanks as ever for the support!

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