What do you see when you think of teens living on the streets of a city? Do you get angry, compassionate, or think it’s a shame, but not your problem? Be ready to see these teens in a different way.
In this novel, Borys introduces readers to Jo Sullivan, a reporter who started out just looking for a story, but who finds so much more. Most especially, she finds Chris Young, a young graffiti artist living on the streets, surviving however he can. Together they look for the truth, not only about a funeral home, but also about themselves.
“Midnight interviews at funeral parlors – not exactly the way they mapped thing out in Journalism 405: Strategic Communication Research. But then nothing about Jo’s situation now related to what life had been back then.”
Jo comes to care about Chris, as do readers, with Borys painting a picture of life on the streets of Chicago that will absorb and involve readers as the reality shocks and captures them.
Category Archives: Reviews
Engaging, fast-paced, and thought provoking. The author pulls no punches when portraying the life and trials of street kids. The pacing comes from the use of multiple main characters, with their very varied viewpoints on life or the situation. Also nice to see was how the author only revealed a little about a character’s past at a time, instead of sudden deluges of information I’ve seen elsewhere.
I look forward to other works from this author, particularly if they fall in series with this book.
Painted Black got another 4-star review over at My Good Booskshelf. Nicola had some wonderful things to say about the characters and the pacing and is looking forward to my next Street Stories suspense novel.
Read what she has to say below and visit her page to see what else she recommends as a great read.
An eye-opening character-driven suspense novel (4 stars)
Suspense novels are one of my favourite genres; the grittier and more believable the better as far as I’m concerned! I was happy when Debra R. Borys approached me to review her novel as it certainly sounded like an intriguing read. Immediately upon picking it up it became clear that the author knows her subject matter well and I had difficulty in putting this down until I had finished it. I don’t want to give too much away however, because I certainly don’t want to spoil the plot for any potential readers!
Jo Sullivan is a Chicago reporter who finds herself caught up in the mystery of a missing homeless girl, last seen at a seedy funeral parlour, trying to earn herself some money. When suspicions come to light about the owner and his bizarre fetishes, Jo soon realises that the young girl may be in more trouble than anyone could ever have realised, and what was once just a job for Jo suddenly becomes something more personal. With the assistance of Chris, a fellow homeless teen, Jo is determined to solve the ghoulish mystery at Sloan and Whitesides Funeral Parlour, no matter the cost…
Some of the themes in this book were quite dark (drugs, abuse, prostitution- amongst others….), but the author does a great job in weaving them together into a compelling storyline. I found Sidney, a funeral home worker to be inherently creepy, yet that was what made him so interesting to read about. I suppose my only criticism is that we never fully find out just why he does the weird things he does. Then again, with someone like that, perhaps it is best not knowing and it all adds to the overall mystery!
I have to say that I found all of the main characters to be really engaging and definitely felt that as a reader I could get into their heads; not Jo especially, though she was certainly well written- I just felt for both Lexie and Chris. They (and their situation on the streets) was vividly brought to life, along with a realistic, grittier side of Chicago that not a lot of people get to learn about. Often I find that teenagers voices don’t feel particularly ‘realistic’ in fiction, but thankfully it wasn’t the case here and they definitely came to life during the course of this novel. It is evident that the author has invested a lot of time in getting to know young people just like those she writes about in this book, and Chris and Lexie have both made an impression on me. Chris especially, seemed jaded for one so young, but considering his circumstances it is hardly surprising- it did make me think about how fortunate I am to have grown up in a stable home with the upbringing I have had and how other young people aren’t so lucky. Some of the aspects of this book were really hard hitting and the author should be commended for tackling such important, relevant subjects in the plot and not shying away from some of the grittier details.
Speaking of Jo, I am so pleased that the author is working on another Jo Sullivan book, as a lot was subtly hinted at here but not fully expanded upon, which I am glad about- sometimes a torrent of information can be offputting, I am glad we get to know Jo slowly. Given some of her personal issues that were briefly alluded to, she undoubtedly has some great story-lines ahead of her- particularly relating to her family background.
I would not hesitate in recommending this well-written, fast-paced novel to readers who enjoy character-driven novels that aren’t afraid of taking a (large!) step across to the dark side. This is a promising start to what I hope will become a solid mystery-suspense series.
Heather Boustead at Reflections of a BookWorm reviewed Painted Black on her blog, on Amazon and on Goodreads and gave it four stars. Here’s a bit of what she had to say. Click the link below to read her whole review and visit her website.
Thank you, Heather. And there will be more Jo Sullivan novels. Book two, working title Bend Me Shape Me, is scheduled for release in March 2013.
This is such an interesting story, though this is not for everyone, there are moments when it is crass and takes an unforgiving look at life on the streets. That being said, this is a fantastic novel full of suspense and intrigue. Each character comes to life in these pages making it almost impossible to put it down for even a moment as you wonder what is going to happen to Chris and Jo. I think the author has come across an interesting setting for an entire series of novels featuring Jo and hopefully Chris as well, at least I hope so. The only thing I must say that it does need a bit of editing other than that the author has certainly struck gold with this novel.
Kim over at Wistfulskimmie’s Book Reviews gave Painted Black a 5 star review today. I’m so excited because she had such nice things to say. It is so gratifying to have reviewers applaud the very elements I tried so hard to do right.
This is the story of Jo Sullivan. She is a reporter, writing short stories about the forgotten homeless of Chicago. This is a mystery and Jo must get to the bottom of a missing teenage prostitute, a dodgy funeral service that specializes in freeze drying corpses for those that can afford it, and a possible link between the two. With a Youth Worker and one of the prostitutes closest friends for help, she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery whilst fighting her own demons at the same time.
I enjoyed this immensely, but it was also quite gritty at the same time and made me think of the fates of others, especially the ‘forgotten’ homeless. Whilst on the one hand highlighting the fate these teenagers have to face, it was also a good mystery at its heart. Jo and Chris are damaged in their own ways and must put aside their mistrust of each other to work together. It is a gripping story. A real page turner but also very sad. The characters were true to life and leapt out of the page at me, at times their pain was tangible. The ending was sad but right for the book. A great mystery that highlights the problems facing the homeless more or less every day. I shall certainly look out for more by this author.