The popular advice to “write what you know” shapes William Emmett’s novel The Innovator, a thriller with an eco-conscious twist. When a thief goes straight, he makes a new life by relying on his skills making bricks, a profession he shares with the author.
Jim Taylor is a thief and tech whiz, able to disarm a bank’s security system or millionaire’s safe and make off with the goods without leaving a trace. He tries to go straight, but when he falls for Debora lovelife [sic], she leads his old accomplices right to him, and they embroil him in one last big score, a combination bank heist and racetrack robbery.
Taylor thwarts their plans and escapes to New Zealand, where he changes his name and buys a brick factory, modernizing their masonry process for solar power and earthquake resistance. His forward-thinking techniques win design awards, but with them come attention and the fear he’ll be found out, if not by law enforcement, which still wants him for his prior crimes, then by the accomplices he left in the lurch.
It’s fun to see a protagonist reform and fight to protect his new life, but the disparate elements in this story often seem disjointed. Emmett’s detailed descriptions of brick kilns and manufacturing give the novel an authentic feel, for example, but they don’t jive tone-wise with the Mission Impossible high-tech crime schemes portrayed here. For the book’s crime-and-reformation story to succeed, the crimes need plausible, rather than fantastical, descriptions.
Additionally, inconsistencies in capitalization and point of view and errors with quotation marks create challenging reading: “As I recalled that camera was delivered to my local post office. [sic] He thought to himself [sic] and someone may have seen me empty the box. I will lock up and go this afternoon. [sic] He murmured to himself.”
Readers may enjoy the protagonist’s struggle in these pages, but to reach its full potential, the book needs thorough editing and proofreading.
Also available as an ebook.