REVIEW: Decisions by R. Doug Wicker

DECISIONS by R. Doug Wicker may have a rather bland title, but the story inside has personality, a unique set-up, and plenty of solid storytelling. A cross between a whodunit and romantic suspense, DECISIONS tells the story of Donovan Grant, a fellow who, after a personal tragedy, finds himself so emotionally handicapped he is incapable of making any decisions at all, or at least those that don’t involve preserving his own life.

Relocated to a tropical island and given gainful employment, Grant finds himself thrust suddenly into troubling circumstances: people visiting the Fijian paradise where he works keep turning up dead, and Grant keeps finding himself waking up near dead bodies, often holding the weapon that caused the death of the victim.

With Grant in charge of island security and a tropical storm holding the police at bay, and with himself as his own prime suspect, he must determine who the murderer is … even if it’s himself … before more people wind up dead.

The author, whose only previous published work was a nonfiction book focused on the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, makes a smooth transition into the world of fiction with his debut novel. While some of his situations stretch credibility a bit, such stretches are not beyond the bounds of what is normal for the murder mystery genre, generally speaking.

There is some rough language in the novel, especially in the early going, but nothing extraneous or over-the-top; just enough to project a sense of the characters involved without descending into profanity overkill.

DECISIONS is not for younger readers; it’s definitely rated PG-13 at the minimum, but that also is part and parcel of the genre this novel inhabits. The most important aspect of DECISIONS is that it entertains. It features smart characters who at times manage to stay a step ahead of what most readers might intuit, which is a measure more effective than many such genre novels tend to pull off these days.

While not exactly a master prose stylist, Wicker writes in an accessible manner that allows for a quick, fun read. And that covers over a multitude of sins.

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