Combustible Punch is a thriller by Paul Michael Peters that opens up with one wow-ing chapter.
When you open up to a woman introducing herself as a serial killer after a romp with our main character in a hotel, it is quite jarring and intriguing. I haven’t found many first chapters that have me raising my eyebrows and intrigued for more as good as this one has. It’s the kind of wow factor I was forced to make back in my high school English classes – write the best opening line or paragraphs you can… And this one is the ultimate winner. The story continues on to let us know she wants our lead, Rick, to write her story. What a scary, thrilling, and fantastic opening. A+ for effort.
Rick feels very real, and you can emphasize with him. The loneliness, the fear and the loss this man has faced made me have so much empathy for him. The way Paul wrote our lead, in just the first 40 pages, made me really wish he could have had a better life with a better outcome and a better family. The trauma and struggle Rick went through are unbearable and hard to imagine (sadly, it seems to be more and more common in the U.S.A. though…). A man who has dealt with so much suffering shouldn’t have to deal with more. Yet among all of the suffering, he still makes some of the world’s worst decisions: Sleeping with a woman in full view of a conference with the windows open, starting up some kind of relationship with a graduate student when he’s faculty, and that’s just the start.
The best quote of the whole novel that had my mind reeling and spinning was “Better to be Cain than Abel.” It’s a really powerful quote, and I’m honestly surprised I don’t see more marketing of this book with it. It’s a solid line that explains a lot about our serial killing lady friend, and the opposite of Rick. If I had to summarize the entire novel, that quote does it. You could analyze this book like an old English paper, and our main characters are the two sides of that coin. One is using her pain and struggle to try to stop the bad and horrible things in the world, but with grave consequences. The other is using his pain and suffering as a form of work, yet isn’t changing the world too much… Yet, in the end, we see the consequences of their actions.
Are these characters the most likable people? Absolutely not. But you can have a lot of empathy for a man who went through a vicious set of circumstances. Would you turn out the same? This book had me reflect on a lot of the struggles we face, and how we end up choosing to deal with them.
I honestly felt like this book was written for me as a reader. It was impactful, it was fast-paced, it had thrills and an ounce of mystery in it. There’s definitely a fantastical twist to it, with our murderer having quite the back story, but that’s all in the fun of the novel.
I absolutely loved this book and I highly recommend it. It’s my cup of tea, as they say. This complex thrill ride of a book left me binging it rather quickly and jumping back in to see if I could pick up the clues again. What an absolutely marvelous novel.
Five out of five stars.
I received this book for free from the author, Paul Michael Peters, in exchange of an honest review.
Looking to pick up this thrilling book to add it to your currently reading pile? Here are some links for you to find more information or even purchase the book:
Barnes & Noble
Do you like crime, mystery, and thriller novels? Well, so do I! Here are more books featured on my blog that you might enjoy if you live for the thrill!
The American Crusade by Mark Spivak
Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio
The Last Straw by Ed Duncan
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