Book Review: Find Virgil by Frank Freudberg

find virgil

Martin Muntor is dying, and he’s planning on going out with a bang. He has lung cancer, but not from his own smoking mistakes. Second-hand smoke will kill him, and Muntor is going to get the message out about the dangers of smoking, if it’s the last thing he does. And he plans to take as many smokers as he can with him. 

Tommy Rhoads needs to find Muntor, and fast. It’s 1995, and the big shot tobacco CEO Nick Pratt is practically invincible, and there’s a huge incentive for finding this serial killer. And a huge punishment for failing.

I love the premise of this book. It’s mystery, high-stakes crime, and suspense all rolled up into one. And it’s so different. The idea is so fresh and original. In a way, it’s almost plausible. Second-hand smoking is a problem for kids, family, or friends of smokers, and it’s only natural to be angry at dying from something someone else caused.

The setting is key. When I first began this book, I thought, pfffft, hardly anyone smokes now, anyways. Plus, how does this guy get lung cancer from second-hand smoke? That seems a little extreme. Then, I remembered it was 1995, which had considerably more people smoking. It seemed that everywhere he went there was someone with a cigarette, and maybe it’s just me, but now I don’t think it’s as popular because I don’t see as many people smoking.

Also, Muntor had a dad who constantly smoked, then a wife and kids who smoked. After that information, I felt a little better. His whole life revolved around cigarettes, and everything seemed a bit more realistic. Freudberg subtly showed the reader that his life is an extreme case.

Also, the writing style really gave the feel of the criminal-mystery book. He didn’t give extraneous details about the characters’ lives or anything. The plot wasn’t focused on the characters; it was focused on the plot and mystery. This style is different from what I usually read, and Freudberg pulled it off well. He uses a third-person omniscient point of view, so the reader knows all that is happening from every side. Muntor’s perspective is very interesting, and Freudberg portrays him as a (somewhat) normal guy with some major grudges.

I do think the book is a bit insipid in parts. For one, every little trial and tribulation is stretched out. Every phone call and hint lasts pages, and the drama seemed over the top. I won’t give anything away, but Muntor isn’t the only murderer in the book. Because of these extra evils, it makes the novel seem less real. I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the corny “keep him quiet” lines. Some parts are too soap-operay for me, but then again I don’t watch crime shows for the same reason.

Also, some of deduction skills Rhoads has are too good to be true. Sure, he does get help, which negates it some, but the whole “gut feeling” thing is right just about every time, which usually doesn’t happen.

Cutting out some scenes, and maybe one more editing cycle would have helped Find Virgil in my opinion. I think I would have also enjoyed it more if it was shorter.

Otherwise, I liked stepping out of my box and reading a crime mystery rather than my usual young adult dystopian novels. The writing style is interesting and different, and my only critiques are the length and unnecessary drama.

3.5 Stars

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Find Virgil by Frank Freudberg

  1. I know what you mean about crime dramas. I remember watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent with Vincent D’onofrio. A one word clue was left at the crime scene. No one in the room knew what it meant except D’onofrio’s character. He then let everyone in on what it meant when he exclaimed, “That means midwife in Swahili.” That was the last time I watched the show. It was too over the top for me.

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