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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
Las Vegas missing person detective, Rigor is known for never giving up. When he receives a clean, wholly untraceable video of a woman called Goatwench, dressed in period clothes and bearing unmistakable marks from being whipped, he becomes eager to rescue the beautiful woman. With no clues to work on, however, Rigor is helpless. He grows desperate as more videos appear in his Dropbox folder and on a Twitter account he never made, each revealing more about the Goatwench’s predicament and the others who share it: the cowleech, the buckskinner, the troubadour. Rigor never gives up, but how can he find this group of people with nothing to go on?
Project Purple by Michael Greco is Big Brother meets period re-enactments with game guidelines resembling the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. The narrative follows separate timelines as it divides between the points of view of the several characters recruited to re-enact the lifestyle of the early American settlers and Detective Rigor. Greco builds an intense sense of tension and intrigue through this structure, unravelling the story with tantalizing slowness. The settlers are striking and memorable individuals who become even more compelling as the darker aspects of their personalities are forced to the surface by their extreme circumstances. The repeated emphasis on Goatwench’s beauty as the initial motivation to rescue her implies Rigor may not have been so inclined to find her if she were unattractive. However, Greco provides readers with a compelling concept, intriguing psychological portraits, and high entertainment in this unique thriller.