Book Review: 337

337

  • Title: 337
  • Author: M. Jonathan Lee
  • Series: None
  • Genre: Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense
  • Publishing Date: October 26th, 2020
  • Publishing Co.: Hideaway Fall
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Format: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle Unlimited
  • Acquired: Given free hardback in exchange for an honest review
  • Amazon Link: 337

337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.

Please note: The double-ended upside-down opening for this book is available in books ordered in hard copy from UK booksellers only


Final Judgment: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Samuel Darte has led a relatively normal life, if you consider that his mother disappeared when he was a child, and his father was put away for her murder. Also throw in the part where he and his younger brother Tom had a falling out with their grandmother–the only family they had left. Lonely Sam has led a drifting life ever since, accomplishing nothing. When his father orders Sam to go keep his dying grandmother company, he is finally given some sort of purpose–at least for the time being. And with that purpose, he is given a chance to finally, potentially, figure out what really happened with his mother all those years ago.

M. Jonathan Lee’s writing is absolutely beautiful. He takes ordinary events and actions, and blasts them with color and new meaning, full of diverse imagery and memorable metaphors. Every little thing that Sam does in his boring, mundane life is shown with vivid clarity, forcing us readers to open our minds to how we live our own lives. What random-seeming things do you do on a daily basis? Lee forces you to look deeper into your own idiosyncrasies and ruminate upon both their origin and ultimate purpose.

As I mentioned above, Sam is an ordinary guy, doing ordinary things. I was expecting a bit more mystery and thriller and suspense from a novel in that genre. Rather than the traditional mystery novel, it is more akin to a self-reflection story about a man learning himself and growing to finally acknowledge the things he can’t change. Although the writing is beautiful–and ultimately kept me engaged within the story–the plot itself is rather dull. Nothing much really happens. Yes, there are twists and you can’t always trust what you think you know, but there is no action. No suspense. There also seemed to be random side stories thrown in, for no purpose that I could fathom except to give the characters a bit of color and perhaps throw the reader off the scent of the “mystery.”

However, perhaps I am being a bit harsh. I went into this novel with the incorrect expectations, and my enjoyment paid the price. This is a lovely book if you are looking for something beautifully written, with a heaping of self-discovery and reflection. It is NOT the book if you are looking for a good thriller or suspenseful story. I will admit that there is mystery, just not the kind I was imagining.

I granted this 3.5 stars because from a different viewpoint, I would have highly enjoyed this novel. I love ruminating on the human psyche and figuring out what makes us tick. Again, I cannot gush enough about the beauty of the writing, and even with the plot unengaging (for me), I still sat for hours with this book open upon my lap, my thoughts turned inward.

Moral of the story, keep your expectations low in the suspense/thriller category, but be prepared for a look inside the workings of the mind and the effects of trauma. 

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