Tuesday, September 17, 2019

When I Got Out

When I Got Out by Peter Seth
Story Plant: 9/17/19
eBook review copy; 464 pages
ISBN-13: 9781611882650

When I Got Out by Peter Seth is a recommended story about starting over after being in prison for forty years.

Larry Ingber is the "The Ivy League Killer" from the late 1960's and has just been released after spending forty years in prison. Although his crime was not murder, he admittedly helped his girlfriend, The Girl, and was convicted as an accomplice for helping dispose of the bodies. After so many years behind bars, Larry is struggling to understand the outside world, which is very different from the one he knew. He has help settling into an apartment and getting a job and tries to adjust to his new life. He has to report to his parole officer, Fusco, who hates him. He is also obsessed with finding his lawyer, Mantell. Lester Mantell has disappeared with the money Larry's parents set aside and left specifically for him, for when he got out. And, surprisingly, Larry is also falling in love again.

There are some excellent qualities to When I Got Out and some parts that need tweaking. The diverse characters are all very well developed and interesting. Seth does an exceptional job portraying his characters as real individuals, while capturing their emotions and reactions in scenes. Larry's obsession with finding Mantell is relatable and you will sympathize with his dilemma. Honestly, the characters are a big draw to keep you continuing to read the novel. The settings and locations are also well described and envisioned.

The plot could have been tightened up a smidgen. The goal is for Larry to settle into his life outside of the system and recover his inheritance. There are several additional scenes that could have been edited out or tightened up to keep the plot running smoothly. There is a lot of foreshadowing of something bad to come, but all the extraneous stuff dampened the tension that a tighter plot would have created. I kept reading to find out what happened to Larry. Did he get his money? Did he and Betsy stay together?

 Seth chose to slowly release details about how Larry came to be called "The Ivy League Killer," rather than sharing all the details all at once. I felt like this worked, but we also should have been given the whole story by the end of the novel. Rather than a thriller, although there are several heart-stopping scenes, this is much more of a character study of Larry.  (Apparently Seth's first novel, What It Was Like,  covers the whole story of Larry's crime.)

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Story Plant.

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