I was given this book by the author in return for a fair and honest review.
I liked the book - there was an interesting concept, executed in an interesting plot, and with characters who were not stereotyped and were intriguing. I thought the concept of a female assassin as the main character was somewhat novel, and I was really surprised at how much I actually found her intriguing, rather than awful - especially since there was no claim on her part to being moral or having some sort of reason other than pure business for what she was doing. I also think the book was well written.
So, why only 3 stars? There was just too much in this book. I appreciate the fact that the author appears to have taken his subject seriously and to have done lots of research to make sure his details at least seem to be accurate (I don't know enough about most of these topics to know if it's all accurate!). But I really didn't want/need to read about all of this - way too much detail about everything.
It wouldn't be a problem if there were a warning - "next 6 paragraphs only matter if you're really interested in the subject." Of course, that would be silly - but as it is, I had no way of knowing whether something in the exposition would be significant to the plot, or was just there. I really didn't want to know all of this, and for me, it disrupted the flow of the plot.
Nevertheless, this is certainly a book worth reading - interesting plot, interesting characters. And I think it would be particularly appealing to folks who like lots of details and info about everything that came up in the book.
It seems that a lot of people are frustrated by the fact that this book is really about Savannah - not really a true crime book at all. But I don't really think this was ever intended to be a "true crime" book (even if GR crowd sourcing says so.) Yes, there's a crime, but it seemed to me that the point of this book was Savannah, not the murder. The murder seemed to me to be merely the vehicle for discussion of Savannah and the characters there and the way society saw Jim Williams.
I don't usually read true crime books, but if it were the author's intent to write one, I think there would have been much more focus on details, motivations, etc.
So, if you go into this expecting a true crime story, you'll probably be frustrated since that's not really what the book is all about. If you look at this as a book about Savannah and its multiple social structures and quirky residents, you'll probably enjoy it a lot more!
I don't know quite what it is about Brennert's books, but I find them compelling reading. I was engrossed in both Moloka'i and Honolulu when I read them, and this was no different. The story just carries me along, and I always find his characters interesting.