Don’t let THREE GRAVES FULL pass beneath your reading radar. Jamie Mason’s first novel is one of those books that will give you pause from the opening sentences. It is not simply a great debut novel or a noble first effort; it is purely a wonderful book from beginning to end.
A great deal of what is impressive about THREE GRAVES FULL is the protagonist, Jason Getty, who we meet almost immediately. Several months previously, Jason had murdered and buried an individual near the edge of his property line. For a year or so, he has been living in fear that the body will be discovered. Mason captures this anxiety perfectly. It does not get better, and Jason does not adjust. It gets worse, just like it would for the rest of us, with each day that passes being nothing less than a gift from God that more than likely will be taken back before the next sunset. Jason is not a cold-blooded killer and behaves like you would in similar circumstances. It is when he takes a first hesitant and tentative step back to normalcy that things go terribly wrong for him.
"THREE GRAVES FULL reads more as if it were Mason’s 20th book than her first. Pitch-perfect pacing, unforgettable descriptions, and quirky but realistic characters abound from page to page. It is a perfect one-sit read, not because there aren’t places where you can comfortably stop, but because you simply will want to keep forging ahead."
A dead body is discovered on his property, but it is not the same one he buried. When a second corpse is unearthed, things go from worse to immeasurably so. Jason starts to attract all the wrong types of attention, from a jilted woman driven around the bend by unrequited love to a couple of amateur, well-meaning, pain-in-the-rear detectives with a modern-day version of Rin Tin Tin on a leash. And of course, that body, the one that Jason is responsible for, is still out in the yard, a ticking, decomposing clock waiting to be unearthed so that it can point a rotting finger of blame in his direction.
Along the way, we learn a lot about Jason and why he probably should get a medal for taking the undiscovered victim off the board and putting him under the ground. The descriptions are graphic in spots and funny in others. Whether you are a fan of genre fiction or otherwise, I can assure you that you will never be bored for one minute while reading this book.
THREE GRAVES FULL reads more as if it were Mason’s 20th book than her first. Pitch-perfect pacing, unforgettable descriptions, and quirky but realistic characters abound from page to page. It is a perfect one-sit read, not because there aren’t places where you can comfortably stop, but because you simply will want to keep forging ahead. You can almost feel Mason taking your hand and gently tugging you along, to see who has done what and to whom on the next page until it is suddenly daylight and you’ve run out of pages. This is one of those books that people will pass on to friends, booksellers will recommend to their best customers, and librarians will take pains to display. Take the hint and read it.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 15, 2013