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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
As a reviewer, it’s always exciting to discover a new author, especially one who has just published his first novel. Chestnut Street is Simon Landry’s first novel, a fiction thriller, and it ticks the boxes when it comes to a unique plot, an engaging main character, good use of dialogue throughout, reasonable pace, unexpected twists and a satisfying ending. Readers will easily relate to the protagonist, Sam Brighton, a quiet high school teacher who enjoys his life, his family and his career. But if ever there was a story that exemplifies how a person’s life can suddenly spiral out of control when bad things happen to a good person, Chestnut Street is it.
The last person in the world who is likely to be a pedophile is Sam, but how else can you explain a nude photo of one of his students on his phone? He can’t and, in short order, he is tarred and feathered, tossed in jail, found guilty, out of a job and condemned by colleagues. In desperation to get to the truth of how this has happened to him, he goes into hiding disguised as a homeless person. The calm, peaceful pace of his life suddenly races at breakneck speed to uncover the truth, and when he does, neither Sam nor the reader ever expect what he finds.
Chestnut Street opens with an exciting chapter that for a long while seems disconnected to the slower chapters that follow. Be patient. Landry is setting us up for the excitement to come. The style of those earlier chapters mirrors the character of the protagonist: he is meticulous, methodical and determined. Personally, I love thrillers with short chapters: it makes it easier to stop...if you want to. But you won’t want to stop. I recently read that writers should be clear first, clever second. That describes Simon Landry’s style best. This is an excellent start to his career as an author. Don’t hesitate to wander the streets around Chestnut Street with Sam as he looks for clues and answers. It’s quite a journey to finding the truth.