Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

Posted On 10 February 2013

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Just finished reading Three Graves Full a debut novel by Jamie Mason with a very catchy first line ‘there is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard’.  I thought this was a really good first novel.  The author is obviously a talented writer and I will definitely check out more of her works.

Jason Getty is a wishy washy type of guy.  He lets everyone trample all over him.  He doesn’t stand up for himself or at least he doesn’t usually until one night in a bout of uncharacteristic temper he murders a man and buries his body at the bottom of his garden.  He then returns to his former self and lives in a state of fear of discovery and cowering guilt.   That isn’t a spoiler by the way, there is an element of mystery to the story but the fact that Jason has committed murder is not part of it.

In a moment of, well, frankly, absurd stupidity, Jason calls in a landscaping crew to clear up his garden that in the last year and a half has become overgrown due to his reluctance to step out there and yes, they uncover a body.  However, it’s not the body that Jason buried!  And so the story really begins and Jason’s house becomes a crime scene.

I think this is described as a literary crime thriller with dark humour.  I think if you read a lot of thrillers then you may not see this as such.  I, on the other hand, don’t read a lot of thrillers so I found this quite satisfying.  I don’t know whether I would say it’s particularly humorous – well, not in a laugh out loud kind of way.  It’s more one of those stories where things keep going from bad to worse – usually predicated on bad decisions by certain characters.  If you’ve ever watched any slapstick comedy – where you can’t for the life of you figure out how the individuals managed to survive in the world so long, then this is similar.  Jason is an accident waiting to happen type of person.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I really liked him because frankly he was sort of irritating – after all, who the hell calls in landscapers when they have a body in their back garden? Doh at all!

Along with Jason we have a number of other characters introduced who add their POV to the story – even a dog!  We go on a discovery to find out who the bodies belong to and who the murderer is and then the whole plot goes into overdrive.  There’s a scene in the garden that is just OMG gross not to mention quite creepy!  Followed by everyone chasing or following everyone else around the place in a desperate attempt to either flee the scene or help each other survive.  (You understand that I’m not trying to give anything away here!)

On the whole this was a really good read and an impressive first novel.  It kept me reading fairly late, particularly when the tempo increases dramatically in the last half/third of the book.  I think the author has a good narrative style although she can go a little overboard at times which can be a bit distracting.  In terms of criticisms – I didn’t really feel particularly for any of the characters – I didn’t dislike them all but I felt a bit ambivalent towards them.  I think Ford was the most likeable and maybe that was because he was a more rounded package with the inclusion of his wife and dog.  The other characters weren’t really fully developed and felt a little bit flat.  The setting was also similarly nondescript – I couldn’t really tell you where this was based but I guess that’s not really of paramount importance to the story.

In spite of these criticisms I thought this was a good read, very quick and definitely catchy.  It grabs your attention fairly early on and then has you reading with your breath held waiting to find out what the next calamity will be.  Word of warning – if you’re a bit squeamish then the whole garden/exhumed body scene may be a bit icky for you.

I received a copy of this from the publisher via Net Galley in return for an honest review.

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6 Responses to “Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason”

  1. TBM

    Sounds like a good start for the writer–room to grow, but enough talent to grow.

    • lynnsbooks

      I agree. I think she’s got a great deal of potential.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Carl V. Anderson

    This one sounds fun and I’ll keep it in mind when the mystery-bug strikes. I’ve heard of the book a few places but this is the first review I’ve come across and you make it sound intriguing. I don’t always develop an emotional connection with characters in a mystery/thriller but I don’t generally need to either if the focus is on telling a good story. Now for series I want to have that connection but I have enjoyed stand alone books without having that happen.

    • lynnsbooks

      I did think this was a good read – I don’t read a lot of mystery books though so I don’t have a great deal to compare it with. I think the publishers likened the book to the Coen Brothers and I can see what they’re driving at although that’s probably not totally accurate. I did like the author’s style of writing – it may be a bit overly descriptive for some although I don’t think she goes overboard and I do think she managed to create a fairly gripping story – I wish I could come up with some sort of comparison but nothing springs to mind for the moment.
      I must admit that in the current book world where the norm seems to be three books or more it was refreshing to read a standalone!
      Lynn 😀

  3. Carol

    Sounds like one I’ll have to pass on. How could you possible call a landscape crew when you know you buried a body, even if it doesn’t turn out to be the one they find?

    • lynnsbooks

      It was a rather stupid thing to do and to be honest it took me a little bit to put it to the back of my mind and press on. I suppose it was one more thing that added to the almost slapstick element of the story. I did enjoy this but thought that was one particular plot line that could have been better thought out. You would probably do a much more thorough job of analysing this as you seem to read a lot of mystery books.
      Lynn 😀

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