The Finder, J E Lorin
Rating: 4 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Tags: Psychological, Murder/Mystery, Thriller, Psychic, Horror. Serial Killer, Police, Romance
Length: 284 Pages
Purchase At: amazon.com
At the age of sixteen, August Goodson developed a strange and mysterious power overnight: he can find people. Victims of murder, suicide, kidnapping, accidents, and rape; August can find them all, usually dead, but sometimes still alive. Nine years later finds August volunteering his services to the police. He’s still smarting from the loss of his long-time love Dante, who cheated on him with his best friend, and harbors a deep crush on the incredibly handsome, and oh-so-straight, Detective Luke Williams. But there are bigger concerns on August’s mind: a serial killer is loose in the city, one whose victims are a little too much like him for comfort. When August finds a living victim who may be one of the serial killer’s, he’s drawn even deeper into the case. Will he make it out alive, or will he soon be the one in need of finding?
The Finder is J.E. Loran’s third novel and although I don’t read much YA/NA these days this one caught my eye and I’m really glad it did. The amount of genre’s this book encompasses is rather vast and all of them are valid too. It’s not often you come across a book like this, but when it works it makes for excellent reading. It’s also a very well written book and aside from the main storyline its sub-plots really make this book. I had no idea where it was heading and I loved that because I didn’t come across a single clue or hint from the author as to where this ride was going. It also accelerates as it progresses and it keeps turning the corner at high speed when you’re not expecting it.
I’ll admit I initially found it a bit angst ridden but that’s only when August’s back story is being told. However it quickly turns away from what I thought was going to be angst as you begin to see the hard life of sixteen year old August and what he’s been through. That said though it then turns into quite a dark, crime fighting, psychological thriller and what a ride it takes you on for a YA/NA novel.
The Finder begins with August aged twenty five and starts off with what August does second best in his opinion. Not that he has any say in the matter and he doesn’t like it either. It gets right into it from the first page as he’s awoken in the early hours. He hears a voice calling out to him saying help me. As he’s had a late night out with his best friend Cherry and her girlfriends at one of the local gay bars, he then feels the familiar tug in his stomach, informing him immediately it was no dream that woke him. He throws on some clothes and is off out the door.
August is psychic and hears the call of people in all types of distress, most of the time they’re dead but that’s not always the case. It began on his sixteenth birthday and although he still has no idea how or why it works, he knows better than trying to ignore it. As he’s also adopted his parents can’t help him either, in fact they hate it so much that as soon as he graduated they literally threw some money at him and fled the state, putting two thousand miles between them, completely refusing to have anything more to do with him. Since he had no idea what the voices in his head wanted help for at age sixteen, he learnt the hard way. He’s never told a soul that if he ignores their calls, they come to haunt him. Staring silently at him and wouldn’t relent until he found their body.
There’s currently a serial killer on the loose in his city and August fits his profile demographic right down to the letter – mid twenties, slim and gay. He keeps finding these men naked, raped and strangled to death. The pull he’s currently feeling is leading him directly to a gay bar that he frequents regularly. As he turns the corner to head down the laneway beside the club he finds the victim and immediately calls an ambulance. There’s a difference to this situation though, this guy is still dressed and has been beaten so severely that August can’t believe he’s still alive, none of the others this psycho has killed had been beaten and left clothed.
As he goes to stand, the victim shoots a hand out and holds August in a vice like grip. For the first time since this all began, the victim begs him not to leave his side, but he’s pleading to August mind to mind. He yelps and drops his phone in shock and because he’s fallen over, once he’s recovered he grabs his phone to hear the frantic dispatch worker, who all know him well by now and is frantically calling to him to make sure he’s OK. He quickly calms her down and she tells him that Detective’s Gladstone and Williams are also en route.
Five years earlier after one too many call-ins locating dead bodies, August, or Augie to his friends, falls under the suspicion of the police very quickly. It’s not hard for them to realise he’s no killer and is assigned two Detectives. They aren’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth because he’s given them the highest closure rates on cases. Gladstone can’t stand him and even after five years still doesn’t trust him whereas his partner Williams is the total opposite. He treats August with real concern and compassion and August is hopelessly in love with him, but it’s a dream of unrequited love that’s never going to happen.
Williams wife died six years ago and he’s straight, poor August is one grief stricken, sarcastic, and occasionally rude and angry young man. He is completely oblivious to how much of a screaming hot mess he still is. After deciding to move to the city with one of his childhood friends and his boyfriend of five years while they attend college, the three of them are inseparable. Life for August couldn’t be more perfect. He can’t afford college and decides to open a shop instead. He can literally fix anything that’s given to him and slowly builds up a steady clientele.
An unplanned trip home during a work day though shatters August’s perfect life as he finds his boyfriend and best friend Ivy having sex on the couch. They’d been cheating on him and his sensitive soul ends up shutting out three months of his life after the fallout. Lucky for him that Cherry, who is three years older and also Ivy’s sister, has finished college. She had missed Ivy and August so much because her college was out of state so she had moved to the city to be with them. She also quickly takes a devastated August’s side over her own sister’s actions. She is thoroughly disgusted by her sister and because she’s known Augie for so long he’s like her little brother. She doesn’t think twice about losing her unusual sister over the outgoing and exuberant friend that she’d known for most of her life. The problem was though, he was no longer there. The breakup also cost him all of his friends, even though he was the one that had been shafted. He no longer trusted people or his decision to choose the right people to trust.
This is what I thought was the onset of an angst ridden YA novel descending but it’s not at all. It’s actually showing you what has become of a beautiful person who’s inner light has been snuffed out. It’s been four years now and August has no idea that he has literally shut down. He has Cherry in his life now and refuses to let anyone else in, if someone gets too close he cuts them off. He has no idea how much of a rude shit he’s become either, even though he dislikes Cherry’s new man, Paul, who kindly and genuinely goes out of his way to include August; even into their circle of friends because he knows how important he is to Cherry. August would rather stick pins in his eyes especially to stay away from all of their friends when they get together. He just manages to deal with Paul for Cherry’s sake as he treats her well and is a nice guy, but he despises Paul’s friends. Both Cherry and Paul have begun to really pressure him into seeing them as much as possible. Cherry keeps guilt tripping him over get togethers and dinner parties and he absolutely hates it.
In August’s eyes they’re all wealthy stuck up arseholes and with his business keeping him afloat, he thinks they’re judgemental and sneer down their noses at him. They make it blatantly obvious that they don’t like him, yet August doesn’t help the situation. He’s unaware that it’s a two way street and just like them prejudging him, he has done the same. He just assumed that when they’d initially tried to get to know him it was out of polite society obligation. Cherry constantly inviting him over and buying him new clothes to play dress up, thinking it will help him feel more relaxed and fit in. It’s having the total opposite effect and making it so much worse because she’s so concerned she’s begun to smother him. Add to that the dead bodies piling up and Augie never having dealt with his abandonment issues. First being adopted, then having his parents ditch him, then his best friend and boyfriend cheating on him. He begins pushing Cherry away too because she’s getting way too pushy for him to deal with. It’s all too much for him and even the Detective’s notice he’s never been the same since they’d worked with him for a year before it all went down. That was four years ago now and if anything August is getting worse.
After Cherry guilts August into another dinner party at Paul’s behest, Cherry keeps filling up his wine glass to help him relax. August doesn’t like to drink in case he gets summoned to find someone, to his relief he hears a call, making it easy for him to leave without Cherry getting angry. Cherry and Paul see him out and Paul manages to word something as August leaves that he possibly knows of August’s gift. If true this is such a huge betrayal to him he’s furious and heads off in the direction he’s being pulled. To add lemon juice to a paper cut August looses his shit when he finds a kid at the end of the trail. He’s not a victim of the serial killer but can’t be any older than twelve, he’s drunk and finally lets it all out and just sobs before calling it in. When the detective’s arrive and find him drunk they are furious with him. They drive him home in a tense silence and Williams follows him inside and tears August a new one. August is shocked by the anger exploding from Williams but then proceeds to attack him right back with a stinging ferocity that Williams was not expecting at all.
Shocking each other into submission Williams asks August why he just doesn’t give it up. Because he’s drunk August finally blurts out that if he doesn’t go find them immediately, they haunt him until he does. This in turn disarms Williams and he tells August he considers him a friend, that he is extremely concerned for his welfare. He has been ever since his break up four years ago and right now it’s far too dangerous for August to go out wandering alone. They never socialise outside of work but Williams demands that August now calls him immediately from now on every time August gets summoned. No matter the time or place, from now on he’s to call Williams and they’ll drive to the location.
Since August is never wrong and the detective’s always end up where he’s lead to, why aren’t they driving him from the get go? This isn’t mentioned in the book but it should have been. It’s the only flaw in the book that I think should have been addressed after he’d been working with them after a week. Let alone for five years with a serial killer on the loose. They should have at least provided him this service and protection. It’s not like they’re paying him because he has to do it and becomes a volunteer civilian consultant that is never wrong, knowing that the detective’s will always be called to his location anyway. Not to mention he can’t afford a car.
He’s so paranoid about people finding out and ending up a lab rat in a top secret government facility he starts blowing Cherry off in fury. He had hardly told anyone during his life and Cherry told Paul after six months of dating. Cherry doesn’t take this well but August is so pissed he just doesn’t care because she tries to justify her actions. If anything it pushed him further into complete isolation. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Cherry, Paul and Detective Williams though. They’ve all become extremely concerned for him and his well being as August’s reckless abandon for his own life is becoming more apparent.
The next day is Sunday and to clear his head he decides to go into work for a distraction. That is until he finds himself standing outside the hospital of a coma patient. He’d been told by the Detectives that the doctors don’t expect him to ever recover, but he’d subconsciously been pulled there by his gift. He has the overwhelming urge to touch the guys arm but at the same time he wants to flee. He finally gives in and as soon as they touch August is launched into the unidentified man’s mind and is shown a memory. He’s not sure how long it goes on for but realises that it’s the guy in the bed arguing with someone in a factory just before he was beaten. As he comes out of it he begins to fall, he didn’t notice the doctor who’d entered that rushes to his side and helps him into a chair.
The book really takes off from here as his friendship with Cherry begins to disintegrate, the killer ramps up his murder spree and body count, and August begins to spend more time with the mystery man in a coma. He receives a call from the doctor looking after him who informs August that after every visit to the hospital the coma victim’s brain activity begins to improve substantially. August begins to visit him regularly and finds solace pouring his heart out to someone he doesn’t know. He gets a terrible foreboding wash over him about it though, about everything.
** MAJOR SPOILER ALERT IN NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS! **
August gets this terrible feeling that he’s missing something vital. A nasty accusing visit at work the next day from Gladstone and Williams, when they storm in pissed as all hell calling him a liar, is confounding to August. He’s at a loss for words. They keep grilling him about how he knows the coma victim. August is pissed at being called a liar but because Gladstone is so angry he’s scaring him, he has no clue what they’re on about. He tells them for the third time that he is positive he has no idea who he is. Williams looks disappointed with August, who’s slowly beginning to lose it as he keeps denying the fact he’s ever met the guy in his entire life. Gladstone then demands from him why the hell was he looking for you everywhere that night. They finally tell him that he’d been searching for August the night he’d been beaten and still don’t believe him until Williams drops a bombshell.
This is where the book has finished its maintenance checks, the countdown hits zero and someone presses the launch button to deploy a clusterfuck bomb. Williams tells Augie that a bartender that they’d missed on round one of interviews told them that he’d seen August that night. He was really surprised to see that you’d gone back to being a natural blond. He even tried to call you over to him for a chat but he said you couldn’t hear him. You were talking to another group of guys, he got busy and forgot all about it. Then they ask him if he has any other family members and August goes pale. His reply shocks them when he tells them that actually might be possible. They just stare at him until he says I’m adopted. That shuts them up for a brief pause and they demand to know why he didn’t you them before. He replies it never came up and you never asked. August went numb as the possibility that a family member had come looking for him. He was in a touch of shock and they ask him for a DNA sample, which he agrees too. He’d always wondered if he had another living blood relative out there once his adoptive parents left him. Now he’s about to find out.
** SPOILER ALERT OVER **
August is then dragged through hell as he believes that the things the serial killer begins to do is all connected to him somehow. His crush on Detective Luke Williams gets stronger as they’re forced into spending more time together. He believes that this is somehow connected to August but no one can figure out how or why. Did the unknown guy in a coma bring this trouble with him or was he just another person in the wrong place at the wrong time? Does August’s affection to Williams evolve and does Gladstone finally manage to find a stick big enough to help him remove the gigantic bug up his arse? Then will Cherry and Augie finally manage to resolve their differences? Will poor August make it through this entire ordeal? Because what I’ve reviewed was the happy, fluffy stuff. This book takes a dark turn but it’s really worth the read.
I know this seems long and it’s like I’m giving the entire story away but I’ve only touched lightly on the first twenty or so percent of this book. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t read many YA/NA novel’s these days but if I’d had books like this to read when I was eighteen to twenty five I would have been in heaven. I’m a huge fan of paranormal novels that have characters with believable psychic powers, as in they’re not over the top. Add to it that this is also a psychological thriller with plot points I didn’t see coming and it’s an extra bonus. This was no formulaic book and it also contained another style of writing that I’m not overly fond of. That is having the main character doing a lot of narration about himself. However the way J. E. Lorin wrote this I didn’t find it grating on my nerves. I enjoyed the way the story was conveyed so I immediately read another of the author’s novels – Peril – which was also excellent.
There is so much more to this book but I can’t write another word without ruining it.