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Bane of Kings reviews the self-published The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits by Dan Johnson.
“A surprising read with well-written and developed characters.” ~The Founding Fields
The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits is the first novel by Dan Johnson that I’ve read, and is a self-published one. Although I’m not a huge fan of self-published novels, the two that I’ve read (The Legend of Adam Caine and The Perplexing Problem…) have proven to be quite enjoyable so far. Hopefully this trend continues.
The novel itself is told entirely in the first person point of view of Adam Baker, your average Joe who is underemployed and under motivated. However, this changes when a Cop shows up at his door, with strange news about Brent, his mysterious former housemate, and we are soon thrust on a story that includes everything from Baseball Cards, the Chinese Mafia, and several conversations over drinks.
Alex Baker is of course, the main character of this novel, and is likeable, and won’t put you off from reading Johnson’s novel, for you will be rooting for him in this book. He’s easy to get behind, a believable character – and isn’t perfect. And, alongside Alex, there’s also his roommates, each of whom act and sound like real characters. In fact, most of the people in The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits are well-thought out, and are all pretty realistic.
Alex himself is a pretty unique main character. He’s normal, for a change. He’s not a Super-Cop, he’s not a wizard, and he’s certainly no ‘Chosen One’. But then this isn’t fantasy that we’re talking about. The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits is as close to reality as you’re likely to get in a novel, and that is partly why I enjoyed it, after all – it was a refreshing break from all the fantasy/science fiction that I had been reading recently.
Although you will find that the pacing is a bit slow, the novel itself is not designed to be a page-turner. It’s a slow-burning novel that leads you on a adventure through San Francisco, which has been fleshed out pretty damned well, I must say – as I learnt a lot about this American city despite actually being neither American, nor a resident of San Francisco. In fact, I’ve never visited the States in my life. But you don’t have to be a resident of San Francisco to enjoy this novel, although for those of you who are, I believe it is as close to an accurate description as you are probably going to get, so another plus for Johnson there. However, whilst Johnson revels in taking a reader on a guided tour of San Francisco, the pace may seem to slow down and become almost too slow for my liking, making it a real chore to get through the book no matter how much you enjoy the tour of the city.
If there’s another issue that I had with The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits, and only a minor one, is that there are a few threads left hanging at the end of the book, a few unanswered questions that could perhaps lead to a sequel.
From what you’ve just read, you may be put off from reading this novel altogether. However, don’t be. There are several things that I liked about Johnson’s book despite the issues that it has above. Those, and the long title, which I felt could have been shortened a bit, although that’s just my opinion.
The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits doesn’t contain any spelling mistakes or grammar errors that I spotted in my review copy, provided to me by Johnson – which is good as the novel itself is self-published.