The Rabbit Skinners

Fiction - Mystery - General
421 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I live with my wonderful wife and son in Japan, where my day job is teaching English. My short fiction has appeared in journals such as the Adirondack Review and Amarillo Bay. I have written two novels of quite different tincture: The Language of Bears (quirky literary historical fantasy) and The Rabbit Skinners (mystery-suspense). I am presently writing a sequel to The Rabbit Skinners tentatively titled The Five Torments, as well as a novel set in Japan with the working title Fukushima Sunset.

Reviews are very welcome!

You can read about my adventures as an Indie writer on my WordPress blog, Past the Isle of Dogs.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

The Rabbit Skinners by John Eidswick is fully comparable and sometimes superior to any Jack Reacher or Lucas Davenport novel on the market. Such comparison is meant to convey just how good this book is. Besides the meticulously satisfying plot (more on that later,) this deftly-paced mystery thriller checks every box included in the mythical Writer’s Guide to Writing. Namely, dialogue is pitched so finely tuned that one actually hears the characters speaking; these characters themselves are so well sketched, one thinks he must have met them somewhere before; and the myriad tiny details necessary to establish place are so lavishly but unobtrusively sprinkled throughout that one feels (and hears, and smells) himself to be fully there in person. And all of this precision writing skill is devoted to telling a marvelously plotted story about a 9-year-old missing girl.

Like both Reacher and Davenport, James Strait, lead character and FBI agent-on-hold, is a BIG man in John Eidswick’s The Rabbit Skinners. Unlike his uber-healthy predecessors in this popular genre, however, Strait suffers from debilitating bouts of Ménière's disease, as well as some lingering guilt from a previous raid gone wrong. In one of life’s mysterious synchronicities, Strait’s search for the missing child resonates much too strongly with the case of another child he could not save. This time, he does not mean to fail. A twisting but logical plot line moves Strait among an intriguing cast of people, places, and potentially fatal situations, making this book a truly exciting and highly enjoyable read.

Viga Boland

When a 9-year-old African-American child goes missing, the black community of Pine River fervently believes she isn’t dead. But if she is dead, as the police maintain, they do not believe the police have found her killer when they arrest her seemingly crazy father for her murder. Returning to his home town of Pine River, Az to rehabilitate from Meniere’s Disease, FBI agent James Strait finds himself drawn into the mystery of the child’s disappearance. Despite being warned off the case by the local police and his own superiors, Strait literally digs into dirt looking for clues the police might have missed. Like a terrier with his nose to the ground, he follows scents to uncover a heinous operation where young African-American children are used as slaves and punished horribly if they disobey or try to escape.

As you read The Rabbit Skinners by John Eidswick, you might be tempted to think “thank heavens this is only fiction”, that this kind of thing doesn’t, or is no longer happening in our modern world. After all, slavery ended decades ago in the US. But then again…? While the plot of The Rabbit Skinners is dramatic, what is far more thought-provoking is Eidswick’s treatment of the social issues of racial equality, especially white supremacy. Through Strait’s ruminations, readers are invited to examine their own views on these subjects. The Rabbit Skinners is also an insight into small-town activities and attitudes. At times, Eidswick’s lengthy descriptions and backstories slow down the pace of the book a bit. But once Strait is hot on the trail to find just who is behind all the ugliness taking place in and around Pine River, readers will find themselves unable to put the book down. All in all, The Rabbit Skinners is a well-crafted story and deserving of your time.

K.C. Finn

The Rabbit Skinners is a mystery novel by author John Eidswick, written for adults. The central character is the once-heroic figure of James Strait, who worked for the FBI and was a national hero preventing terrorism. After a debilitating disease sees him struggling with everyday life, it seems his days of investigating are done. But when an African-American child goes missing in his hometown, James is awakened to a terrifying conspiracy right on his doorstep. His search for one missing child leads to the discovery of many more cases and James battles many forces, including his own health, to achieve justice and uncover the awful truth.

I love stories where heroes are imperfect, and James Strait is a character whose medical condition is written with true compassion and not used as a mere gimmick in the tale. Author John Eidswick does well to portray the real everyday pain of a true hero without overdoing it, and even using that struggle as fuel to succeed against the odds. The mystery plot itself was also very well conceived and kept me hanging on across the pages as I wondered how deep and twisted the story of the missing kids would be. That said, The Rabbit Skinners is not a gory, shock-value tale, but a thoughtful and tactfully presented take on underground extremes of racism in the modern day. Overall, I’d highly recommend The Rabbit Skinners to readers seeking an intelligent mystery tale with real world issues and a relatable hero with endearing struggles of his own.

Sefina Hawke

The Rabbit Skinners by John Eidswick is an intriguing mystery novel that would appeal most to a audience of older young adults, and adults who enjoy mystery novels that feature a main character with a disability. James Strait is the FBI agent who was considered a national hero for his actions in stopping a terrorist attack, yet those glory days are now behind him as he finds himself no longer fighting terrorists, but instead battling Meniere's disease. Yet, the call for action comes again when a child entreats him to find her friend that went missing. Does James Strait still have what it takes to be the hero that his hometown needs or will Meniere's disease win?

Move over Aron Hotchner, Donald Ressler, Clarice Starling, and William Gram and make room for James Strait in The Rabbit Skinners by John Eidswick. The first few chapters really pulled me into the story with how James managed to stop a terrorist attack and the discovery of his having Meniere's disease only made him a more intriguing character to me. I have always enjoyed main characters with disabilities as it makes them seem more like real people. James was an amazing character who was willing to fight against not only his own body and those who should be on his side, but also those who were actively trying to kill him and stop his investigation into the African-American children who have disappeared. Overall, I found that I really enjoyed this book and I would love to read more of John Eidswick’s books in the future!

Divine Zape

The Rabbit Skinners by John Eidswick is a spellbinding thriller with powerful hints of mystery. James Strait had been one of the best FBI agents, a national hero who stopped a terrorist attack. But he is maimed by a rare kind of illness. When little Eliza comes asking him to help find her missing friend, nine-year-old Jophia Williams who disappeared on a deserted country road, he feels sorry for her, because instinctively he understands the small girl is asking him to bring back a dead person. It’s a request that Strait can’t refuse, but one that will lead him to an underworld of organized crime against African-American children. Strait quickly realizes that it’s a complex case and there are people who will do anything to stop him, even his superiors - some from the FBI and the police - and a deadly bike rider trying to kill him. Does he have enough fight to save these children, and perhaps himself?

This is a great read and I was immediately drawn to the protagonist, a hero who feels condemned to a life of disability. The reader can feel his pain and the frustration of not being able to do what he used to do. But what makes him an interesting character is his ability to connect with his core values. I saw a fighter in Strait, a character whose humanity is well explored and whose actions are inspiring. The narrative is at times dramatic and one understands that the author uses this style to explore the world of children, but it is wildly entertaining, with a smashing twist and plot points that will appeal to sleuth buffs. John Eidswick crafts a story that is edgy and filled with suspense. A real page-turner!