Review: “Pale Moonlight,” a Novelette by Istvan Szabo

by Jason Varrone

Rating: 2 STARS

Genre: Mystery

Type of Story: Novelette

Summary: December 1936, New York. Detective Jack Kelly bravely faces harsh daily life to always emerge victorious, but every evening as the clock chimes seven, he prepares for the battle he has always lost.

Review: Istvan Szabo’s novelette “Pale Moonlight” tells the story of the exploits of Jack Kelly, a detective in New York City.

This novelette starts very slowly, with a ton of exposition and background information given within the first few pages. Many character names were introduced, and I had difficulty keeping track of who was who as I continued reading. The story then reverts to a flashback, then picks up again from the present, and then repeats this throughout. By the fourth or fifth page I was still waiting for the story to truly begin. After the flashbacks concluded, the story began again with more background, this time about material that had no major bearing on the story, such as the type of car Kelly drives and his personal choice of firearm. As I read more and more, I realized that all I was reading was exposition and details about Kelly’s likes or wants or thoughts. Nothing was happening!

The story is told from the first person point of view, and Istvan tries hard to set the genre of a noir-type detective story. For the most part he succeeds, but the story never achieved any sense of flow, and I found it difficult to get through it. By the time I finished reading, I was struck by the same thought as before: nothing really happened in this story. It was also a bit confusing and contained some grammatical and punctuation issues as well.

I think Istvan has the makings of a solid story here. He has a great grasp of the noir-type mystery genre. His descriptions were vivid and imaginative, and he clearly set the stage and story setting in my mind. But I needed to read about something happening, something that would draw me in and not let go. That did not happen here.

Available at: Amazon, Smashwords

Author Site: Website

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