Review: A Spark of Justice by J.D. Hawkins

Posted October 6, 2015 by Lola in Mystery, Review / 16 Comments


a spark of justiceA Spark of Justice
by J.D. Hawkins

A fatal accident at the circus sparks an insurance investigation that leads John Nieves, a former New York cop, to a list of murder suspects. It seems that The Great Rollo, beloved of millions, had enemies… both at the circus and among his own family.

All that is surreal and magical about the circus brings out Nieves’ deepest fears, blinding him to the very real danger that is closer at hand. A bizarre series of revelations and coincidences keep Nieves’ suspicions of the circus people high, even after the actual evidence suggests that the incident really was only an unfortunate accident.

The furtive actions of Rollo’s wife and brother, the beneficiaries of his insurance, lead Nieves into even dirtier family secrets. Apparent attempts on his life from all quarters threaten Nieves, but he refuses to drop the case until the whole truth of who killed The Great Rollo is revealed.

My Review:
I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

So one of my reading goals for this year was to read more (cozy) mysteries and so far I haven’t been doing well with that goal. So when one day a review request for A Spark of Justice landed in my inbox I decided to give it a try. The circus setting sounded fun and that ended up being one of the aspects I liked most about this book.

A Spark of Justice follows John Nieves who works for an insurance company and he has to figure out a way for the company to not have to pay out the insurance money. So he has to prove it isn’t an accident that the Great Rollo died. There is some mystery surrounding the death of the Great Rollo and what exactly happened, but even at the end I felt like I was still missing a few pieces.

I did enjoy this book and thought the mystery aspect was interesting. The story did kept my attention and I never felt bored while reading as I was invested in learning more about the mystery. The author sets up multiple possible suspects at first and only later we find out who did what and why. Part of the plot lines felt a bit unrelated to the bigger mystery, especially when we found out what really happened. I thought what actually happened was a bit anti climactic and I felt like a few scenes had a bit more potential, some story lines didn’t get wrapped up neatly, I wondered what happened to a few of the characters we met, but once they weren’t in direct contact with John it seemed it didn’t matter what they did.

I did expect some twists and the ending scene I predicted fairly early on, however it was still an enjoyable book. I liked seeing John trying to figure things out and I was curious to what really happened and how everything tied together. we only get pieces at first and then slow things fall on it’s place. I did think a few scenes towards the end got dragged out a bit and then between two chapters a big change happened and I wanted to know how or why that decision was made, but we never learn that. There was also some danger that got played up at times and then played down later, it just felt a bit off.

John was an okay character, but in my opinion the story and setting made this book shine not the characters. The characters did get enough descriptions to feel like they were someone, but there just wasn’t enough to make me really invested or care about them. I think there was room to make John a bit more likeable, but the story driven plot and the third person perspective made it hard for me to really relate to him. I did like how we saw a change in him as a character in his stance towards the circus due to spending time there. We did get a bit of a feel for the suspects, like the crazy cat lady, the wife of Rollo his brother and Rollo his wife and brother make an appearance as well. Then there is the circus cast which just blended into clown and animal caretakers for me, there was an effort to give them identifying characteristics or appearance, but I still had a hard time remembering who was who.

The circus setting was well done and reading that the author was part of a travelling circus himself for a while makes me think that most of it was based in reality. The circus made for an interesting setting and we got a glimpse of their way of life. I thought it was a fun setting for a mystery book.

To summarize: this was a fun cozy mystery set at a circus. I was interested in finding out what really happened and caused the death of the great Rollo. There were a few plot lines that didn’t got tied up neatly and the actual event of what happened was a bit lame in my opinion. I predicted some twists, but I still enjoyed seeing it all play out. There’s also a chapter transition towards the end that was a bit jarring as I wanted to know what happened in between. There is also some danger to John, but that got played up and down depending on the scene. There is quite a big vast of side characters and I had a bit trouble remember who was who. John was a nice enough main character, but with the third person point of view and not enough focus on him as a character I never really felt like I knew him. The focus is more on the story. The circus made for an original setting and I liked learning more about the circus and how the people lived. All in all it was a fun mystery set in an original setting that did keep my attention, but I didn’t really care about the characters, some plot lines didn’t get wrapped up neatly and the truth behind Rollo his death was a bit anti climactic.



What do you look for in a mystery book?

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16 responses to “Review: A Spark of Justice by J.D. Hawkins

  1. Braine

    Oh I love it when we don’t know who the bad guy is! Like everyone has a motive and lots of circumstantial stuff to confuse you, no wonder the book kept your attention.

    • The circus made for a great backdrop, it was fun seeing a bit fo the circus feel and how the peoepl who worked there saw each other as family and were very tight knit and not happy with a stranger poking around. the settign and atmoshphere was done well.

      It was a shame the character was only mildy likable and that combined with the plot liens that didn’t got wrapped up fully, had me end up giving this one a 3 star, but the mystery was really well done. I read another cozy mystery after that and the mystery in this book was way more engaging. This was a fun introduction to this genre.
      Lola recently posted…Review: A Spark of Justice by J.D. HawkinsMy Profile

  2. Great review Lola. You definitely gave an impression of this book. Too bad you didn’t get to feel for the characters. That sucks.

    A good mystery for me are definitely the ones that make me question who really did it multiple times in the book. I love thinking I figured it all out and then finding out I had it all wrong. I think that’s what’s so unique about cozy mysteries. And the feeling you get while reading them.. that you should be curled up on the couch with a cop of hot coco or tea.

    Don’t like that cover though..
    Maureen Hinten recently posted…Excerpt Reveal ‘Butterfly Ginger’ by Stephanie FournetMy Profile

    • I agree the cover isn’t the best one, I think it doens’t really scream cozy mystery, although it does sort of fit the book, but still I think the author could go for somethgin catchier.

      The mystery was done pretty well and kept me wondering why really did it. I think a mystery that keeps me guessing and changing my mind about who did it is something I enjoy. It can be fun when your expectations are wrong. This book has a less cozy feeling than some of the cozies I read after this, but the circus setting still made for a great cozy setting.

    • It’s not really a standard cozy mystery cover, which is a shame as I like the cozy mystery style for covers. I do think this cover fits, but it’s not as eye catching as it could be.

      The setting was one of the best things about the book, I never read a book before set at the circus and it was obvious the author knew what he was writing about.
      Lola recently posted…Review: Echoes by Laura TisdallMy Profile

    • I am quite in the mood for them lately and am reading my thrid cozy mystery for this year at the moment. I think I am getting a bit of a feel for the genre. The circus twist was really unique and well done. It was a shame there was less focus on the characters though, but it was still an enjoyable read.
      Lola recently posted…Review: Echoes by Laura TisdallMy Profile

    • The mystery and setting were both well done, it was just a shame the actual resolution was a bit lame and some plot points didn’t get wrapped up completely, but I did like how the mystery kept me guessing. I am glad I trying to read more books in this genre, so far I am enjoying them.
      Lola recently posted…Review: Echoes by Laura TisdallMy Profile

    • It wasn’t the mystery that was predictable, but something that happened to the main character, I didn’t want to say more as I didn’t want to spoil anything. The anti climactic ending to the mystery was a shame as till that point I really enjoyed the mystery.
      And the setting was definitely my favourite aspect of the book, it really showed that the author knew what he was talking about.

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