Half-Built Houses by Eric Keller

Half-Built Houses by Eric Keller
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Charley Ewanuschuk has been mistreated all his life and now survives as a ghost, moving through society as unnoticed as possible. However, when a murder occurs behind the half-built house he is squatting in society takes notice of the introverted homeless man as he becomes the prime murder suspect. Brian Cox managed to charm his way into a good job in a national law firm but, when the recession hit, he learned that charm is a disposable commodity. Fired by the firm and forced to take on Legal Aid files to pay the bills, Charley’s murder trial becomes Brian’s first major case. However, this will be no straightforward case. As the trial progresses it becomes apparent forces are working behind the scenes to ensure the homeless man takes the fall for a crime. Told from the point of view of the accused, the lawyer, the detective and the manipulator, Half-Built Houses provides all the thrilling intrigue, clever ingenuity and interesting individuals readers have come to expect form classic courtroom dramas.

I am one to cheer for the underdog and when Charley Ewanuschuk, a homeless man who has a history of being picked on and is accustomed to being classified as the less fortunate, I find myself cheering for his innocence to be proven. Will legal aid attorney Brian Cox be able to prove that Charley isn’t a killer?

I enjoyed every part of this book. The author’s writing style, the realness of the characters and definitely the plot structure. The vivid accounts told with liveliness and intensity makes this an astonishing read that I didn’t want to put down. Charley is a homeless loner who has minimal skills in communicating. At the end of his work day he finds solace in a half-built house. It was touching how the author described Charley’s feelings in how such a small space of four walls in the basement of an unfinished home could make Charley feel human and like a man. There was something about Charley’s life, his struggle that drew me in, that made me empathize with him and his situation. Brian doubted Charley’s story but as he got to know him he too started to cheer for the underdog. It finally felt like someone was on Charley’s side, that he had someone to look out for him. Charley having someone to speak for him and fight for him made me cheer even more because this meant Charley had a chance.

As Brian digs into Charley’s past the story builds in intensity and as the case unfolds the climax reaches a high point. The wealthy have a means to protect themselves and their own. Even though Jason was the last person seen with the deceased female, and the circumstances make him look like the guilty party, Jason’s father Hugh Young pulled out all the stops to cover and protect his son and their family name from being mentioned in this murder. As Hugh tries to cover up Jason’s involvement the conflict rises. The twists and cover up helps build a strong suspense. The author exemplifies skillful storytelling in this moving novel that kept my attention from page one until the very end. This is absolutely a book that I will remember for a long time to come.

This is a warning that once you start reading you may not be able to put the book down. If you enjoy suspense this book will not disappoint. This is a title that you definitely don’t want to pass up.

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