Immediately, I was drawn into this read. “Fan Mail” had such a strong opening. The juxtaposition Lewis played with between “The Lord of the Flies” discussion occurring within, and Brian’s real life was exemplar, and the perfect kick-off to this book. It immediately showcased the author’s talented writing while drawing the reader in with a classic discussion surrounding a classic novel. This also served to set the stage and scene as it firmly rooted us in the high school setting, because who has made it out of high school without being assigned a “Lord of the Flies” reading?
“Fan Mail” at its heart is a coming-of-age novel, housed amongst a scary development of escalating mail scare tactics. Two of Brian’s brothers are in a popular band, receiving increasingly threatening mail asking them to quit and stand down for other talent to shine. This amid their own family scare as their dad suffers a heart episode. As the reader circles the case with both the detectives’ point of view and the brothers’ view, we are led through a tangled maze of family drama, high school life, and teenage angst.
Author Joseph Lewis recently did a podcast episode with The Author’s Spot. In this interview he discussed how he pulls from his own experiences, cautionary tales, and work to pen thrilling stories that are both relatable and crime driven. Through his work as a counselor, teacher, coach and even administrator over the years he has many stories, experiences, and content in which to draw from. But one thing he is clear about, a theme that is evident throughout every page of this book, the importance of family and those you love. Lewis is able to pull from real life to spread the significance of letting those around you know they are loved through the actions and sequence of events that take place throughout “Fan Mail.” With a leading family that is comprised of seven brothers, all living under one roof, with various genetic makeup and origin stories, the love they have for each other is real.
Lewis takes after authors such as C.J. Box, James Patterson, and David Baldacci, as he immerses readers in his characters by having them in reoccurring roles and appearing throughout each of his books. This Includes the detectives as well as the families present within, like that of Jeff and his son Danny, and Jeremy and his seven sons. This strategy lends well to the page as it was easy to feel an attachment to the characters after reading just one of his books. In fact, while “Fan Mail” primarily focused on Brian, I cannot wait to go back and see the roles Brian may have played in Lewis’ other eight books as he is such an enjoyable character that stoked tears, cheers, and empathy throughout this read.
As a reader, this leading family was easy to immediately connect to. While the characters have definitely forged relationships previously and been through many trials and celebrations together, this still felt like an excellent jumping off point to Lewis’ writing. Brian was the perfect character to ease into this fictional world with. His heart, his passion, his loyalty, and his kindness radiated off the pages and pulled the reader in. Thus, despite the varied backgrounds, and clear history between the members, the writing and stories the brothers shared throughout this book made me instantly feel like I’d missed nothing by picking up this author’s ninth book.
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