From the first page, Death of a Bully left me uninspired. I saw a poorly formatted PDF manuscript, which made me wince. I was determined to keep going, seeing how the version on Amazon looked much better. It quickly became obvious that this novelette needed thorough editing to remove stiff dialogue, grammar and numerous punctuation errors. This is something I would strongly recommend to Steve Zimcosky. The dialogue did improve a lot further into the work, and using contractions would have made it more natural. I wanted to know Tom as a character, but apart from being told he is a retired cop, Tom is colorless and without substance. What does he like, dislike, habits, quirks? The author leaves this blank, as he largely does with all the other novelette’s characters.
With ‘The Slavic Village Seven’ chapter, the author attempts to introduce background history in one long, mostly irrelevant narrative. He lists his grade school friends, and introduces John Christy, the bully. This was a wasted opportunity for the author to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ Tom’s experiences and how he overcame John. The POV shift to Nick and his suffering after John disgraced him, could have been left out, as readers did not learn anything new than was already said. This also applies to the ‘Jack’s Disclosure’ section where Jack discovers John is his father. The story started with Tom as the main character, and should remain in his POV. If this were a much longer work, changing POV may have been acceptable.
As a detective story, Death of a Bully is straightforward and unimaginative. However, as I kept reading, it does have mild compulsion to find out what happens. Regrettably, there is very little mystery and suspense, and figuring out who was the real murderer became obvious fairly early. Trying to pin it on Nick and Jack never really worked. With all the story’s structural and writing problems, very young readers interested in a diverting couple of hours will find Death of a Bully entertaining.
This novelette is available on Amazon.
About Steve Zimcosky
Steve Zimcosky is an award-winning and international selling author. He was born in the Slavic Village area of Cleveland, Ohio, and wanted to be an author since elementary school while reading books like White Fang and Call of the Wild by Jack London. He spends his retirement time writing short stories on a variety of subjects he hopes readers would enjoy. Some of his favorite authors include Stephen King, James Clavell, and Vivien Chien.