Book Reviews

Book Review: The Best of Crimes by K. C. Maher

The Best of Crimes,

by K. C. Maher

Publication: RedDoor Publishing: September 1, 2019

best of crimesAbout the book:

Walter, a child prodigy who now works on Wall Street, considers himself a father figure to Amanda, his daughter’s best friend, and only child of a neglectful single mother. But when he loses his job after the 2008 financial crisis and his materialistic wife leaves him, taking their daughter, his relationship with Amanda enters a precarious new stage.

Walter struggles to give her the affection and guidance she needs, without succumbing to her budding sexuality. In the year before she enters high school, these two lonely souls will transform each other as Walter breaks out of his emotional shell, and Amanda blossoms into adolescence. In a world that has always failed to protect its most vulnerable,

The Best of Crimes is a new narrative and an unconventional love story that will challenge your perception of right and wrong.

**My Review**

Whether you want to compare The Best of Crimes to Lolita or Rust and Stardust, what an outstanding novel! This is yet another NetGalley download that has been patiently waiting to be read, and one that I regret not reading sooner. As stated in the blurb, this novel is about Walter, his marriage to Sterling, his daughter Olivia, and her best friend/neighbor, Amanda. Walter and his wife Sterling meet Amanda when she is very young and she becomes friends with their daughter. But as the years pass, things change. Walter, who used to only be into older women, finds himself completely enthralled by and obsessed with his daughter’s best friend. Amanda’s mother is never around and even in elementary school, Amanda is frequently left alone for long periods of time because of her mother’s job(s). When Sterling decides to leave Walter (temporarily, according to her) and take Olivia with her, Walter transitions into a caretaking role with Amanda, while also trying to suppress his true feelings for the young girl.

So, are you creeped out yet? Let me get the critical parts out of the way first. If you hesitate reading this novel for fear of reading about a grown-ass man being sexual with an adolescent girl, then don’t worry. This isn’t the case at all. With that being said, there are still some icky moments that make you want to set the book aside for a minute, take a deep breath, and prepare yourself for what could possibly come next. Does Walter have some issues? Oh yeah… Does Walter alter Amanda’s life and future intimacy with others because of their relationship? Most likely. Are the logistics of this story a bit far-fetched in our day and age? Certainly. The likelihood of a child Amanda’s age being left unsupervised for the periods of time that she was, without social service involvement is little to none. 

Now, for the good parts. I am truly in awe of this author’s writing. I was completely captivated from the first word until the last. She could have been writing about animals being slaughtered, and I think I still would have hung on to every, single word. Every once in a while I come across a debut author with this talent for writing and I am amazed, but it doesn’t happen often. Told from Walter’s POV (until the last chapter), Maher perfectly captures the voice of Walter and brings him to life. Furthermore, her development of the other characters is just as remarkable. 

Ignore the subject matter and read this for her writing! Even descriptions of lunch including cheese, olives, and pomegranate juice mixed with water sound better coming from K.C. Maher. 

Back to her characterization… Amanda is the most likable character in this novel. Prepare to hate Sterling and Cheryl (Amanda’s mother). Prepare to dislike Walter and Sterling’s daughter, Olivia, although most of her unpleasant characteristics are typical of girls that age. But most importantly, prepare to hesitantly like and admire Walter, despite his taboo affections for/towards Amanda. Does it make sense to like Walter? Absolutely not. Did I like him anyway? I couldn’t help it! He knew his thoughts and feelings were inappropriate and all he ever did was try to tell others that he had said feelings and knew they were wrong. What did everyone else do? They laughed it off and commended him for taking care of Amanda when no one else would. 

I’ll try to curb my increasing thoughts on this novel, but I want to leave you with this challenge. If you only read one book this year that is outside of your comfort zone as far as subject matter, then this is the one to read. The Best of Crimes is honest, raw, and uncomfortable – but some of the best-damned writing I’ve come across in a long time. Bravo to the author for taking a chance and bring these characters to life! 

*Thanks to NetGalley and RedDoor Publishing for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Purchase The Best of Crimes on Amazon!


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