Path to Atonement
by Jim Dutton
Lettra Press

"'I can't be the person I want to be with this hanging over my head.'"

Any lover of the genre will easily identify the patterns and currents of a typical detective novel or crime drama. The powers of good are often outmatched, and the evildoers are organized and hungry. Meanwhile, the crimefighter is usually playing catch up. The author will toy with the reader and present vivid details to trick and deceive as readers accompany the world-weary protagonist, all while making a predictable paint-by-numbers adventure like so many dime-store tales of the past. However, this is not such a story.

Yes, true to form, the main character, Nick, finds himself on page one at a disadvantage. But despite this brief nod to convention, the book doesn't follow the standard cookie-cutter plot. A web of crime has been taking place in the shadows and beyond the protagonist's interest. Events that took place before the narrative force him to seek redemption. The author discusses his main character's process and decisions in a dynamic third person. The logistics of both criminal activity and fighting are presented in vivid detail.

It is a world populated by men and women on both sides of the law, those well familiar with the consequences of faulty decisions, and who are distinctly casual about the violence of the entire process. It is a culture of men like Nick, who struggle to make amends for past wrongs and strip themselves of old wounds that their distinct brand of justice has manifested on their souls. It is a tale that hints at the darker possibilities of the criminal mind and the handicaps imposed on law enforcement that restrain them from crossing the line. Ultimately, it's a compelling story about individuals finding the courage to stop compromising their morals, quit bending their badges, and seek a path towards humility and forgiveness.

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