Piwko’s Proof is so very close to being a five star read, but the opening chapter, instead of providing a hook that drags the reader into the story, is actually its weak point. The novel opens in a distant point of view as we follow two unknown men breaking into a home and kidnapping Conrad Carlson, an assistant director of the FBI. The two men in question are bit part players. We never again return to their point of view, so are left wondering why most of chapter one was written from their perspective.
Had the book opened in Conrad Carlson’s point of view at the moment the kidnappers enter his marital bedroom, we could have been right there in the moment.
We next discover (during a long section which introduces more people we will never see again) that Carlson’s release is dependent on a stay of execution for Tom Austin, convicted paedophile and child killer. If we had been in Carlson’s head during the kidnapping and so identifying with him, this information would have put fear into our hearts, knowing there was no way the state could comply.
However, once we get over chapter one the book takes off and becomes a really enjoyable read with plenty of drama, violence, intrigue and plot twists to keep any thriller fan turning the pages.
In chapter two we get to meet the main character of the novel, Harry Meurant, a small town lawyer who represents the eponymous Piwko. Piwko, incarcerated in a maximum security prison, claims he has evidence that will exonerate Austin of murder, meaning the death penalty can be overturned.
Meurant takes the information Piwko has given him to the FBI, who aren’t inclined to take the claim seriously. From this point onwards, Meurant’s life is in danger, but we only discover who is trying to kill him right at the end of the book.
There are a few subplots running alongside the main thread which give the novel added interest while throwing the reader off the scent.
I thoroughly enjoyed Piwko’s Proof and can’t help wishing it had come to me for critique, rather than for review. I would have advised the author to scrap chapter one and rewrite it, putting us in the head of the kidnapped man. With that change, I’d be rating this five stars all the way. As it is, it’s still a good read and one I have no hesitation in recommending.