Have you ever noticed how legal novels tend to have black, gray, and red covers? Sometimes dark browns and golds. Sometimes dark blues. But seriously, though. I went looking on Amazon to see, and almost all of them were either some version of black and red or browns and golds.
I think that’s probably why the book stood out to me. With dark to almost aqua blues and bold splashes of yellow in crisp, vivid colors, the cover spoke to me. The title drew me in. Delayed Justice. I mean, honestly. Isn’t that what all justice is?
So, with everything going for it except an unfamiliar author, and they often tend to become very familiar once I’ve read a book or two—ahem—I decided to request a review copy.
It arrived months before the tour would begin. I had plenty of time to read. Plenty.
Then life threw me a curveball with an unexpected surgery. It took a few days to recuperate, but I was back on track. Curveball two hit—an unexpected trip to Oklahoma. And the hits just kept on coming.
So, I woke up this morning to a friendly reminder that my review was due. Tomorrow.
Fortunately, I’d planned for this (thank you, Lord, for my editorial calendar!). But, that reminder got me reading a bit earlier. I don’t know why.
Then it happened. My daughter walked into the room. “Is it a good story?” (note: she didn’t ask if it was a good book).
“It’s a horrible story—amazing book.”
I think she walked away confused. I can’t be sure. You see, I was lost in the pages again.
Note: links are likely affiliate links. Additionally, I requested a review copy of this book. I chose to review it and here it is.
Why Sometimes Awful Books Are the Best
I’d never read anything by Cara Putman before Delayed Justice. Never fear. I’ll remedy that forthwith.
Look, there’s no way I’ll ever say this is a “good story.” It’s not. It’s a horrible story that far too many boys and girls in the world can echo. It’s horrible and awful, and I hate that the need to write it exists.
Every bit of me wanted to throw it across the room as I read. But there was one problem.
I couldn’t stop turning the pages to pause long enough to aim.
It’s that good. It’s that awfully good. Ms. Putman takes the horrible reality of child abuse and lays it out with no holds barred.
And yet she did—she held back exactly where she should. Not many authors know that delicate balance between dangling you over the cesspool of life so you are fully aware of its existence and the reason we’re to fight it without at least dipping a small toe into it.
Cara Putman didn’t. Not even once.
We lived the horror with young Jamie without actually seeing or hearing anything too graphic. We knew it was—we knew. But with skillful writing and the brilliant use of subtext, we got a full picture without ever once having the veil of discretion raised.
Even if I didn’t like the characters, the description, the setting—the rest of the plot! Even if I hated the rest of the book, I swear I’d have given her five stars just for that.
Look, when I realized that she was going to take us into the heart and mind of misused children, I didn’t know if I could take it. I can handle a lot, but sexual crimes are my personal line. It’s just… I can’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m throwing a caveat out here. If abuse is a trigger for you, be warned. You may have trauma reading this book. I expected to close it and respectfully bow out of my commitment or skim anything remotely related to Jamie’s case.
It absolutely wasn’t necessary.
Were the characters great? Yep. For once, you have two broken people—one not ready to trust a romantic interest. The other just barely ready to consider it. Both navigated the change naturally and without instant changes of heart just because of hormones. That alone should win Putman some sort of award. I’ll nominate her for anything just for that alone.
But her descriptions. Wow. She writes descriptions I love to read—just enough to let me see what’s going on and no more. I wasn’t overpowered by lengthy details about every knickknack on every shelf in every room as if she’d taken writing lessons from Dickens.
Thank you, Ms. Putman!
Instead, I learned about each character by what she did share… and each character was so raw and real I felt like I’d met them before. Characterization—spot on.
Her writing style engages the senses and emotions exactly as it should. Only once (and remember, I read an advance reader copy, so it was likely corrected) did I find a couple of paragraphs where I wanted to say, “Okay… does every sentence need to start with ‘she’?” That’s it. That’s the only objection I had in the whole book.
Even the “conversion prayer” didn’t bug me like so many do. This wasn’t some Sunday school paper contrived tale. It was a realistic, reasonable moment that required prayer.
Score one for reality.
Frankly, I recommend this book to anyone—with a reminder of its content. This is a hard-hitting book about topics that shouldn’t even exist! And it’s handled with skill, sensitivity, and authenticity. Bravo.
Yeah. Sometimes awful books about terrible things are the best—at least when the author knows how to make sure we see the evil without being steeped in it.