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Broken Ground: A Jay Porter Novel

Review

Broken Ground: A Jay Porter Novel

If you seek an inspirational thriller in Joe Clifford’s fourth Jay Porter novel, look elsewhere --- unless you can read between the lines.

At age 36, estate clearer (“a fancy way of saying I collected the leftover crap no one else wanted”) Jay has dug himself into a hole with addiction issues, and the earthen walls threaten to collapse. His life is “a never-ending cycle of trading one step forward for two steps back.”

Jay rents an above-garage studio he can’t afford to heat during frigid New Hampshire winters. Brutal near-death experiences cause PTSD-induced panic attacks, for which he takes anti-anxiety meds prescribed by a shrink. Not scripted are the daily beers and cancer sticks. Jay’s “brother Chris found dirt on the Lombardis. Only he didn’t understand how muddy it got. Chris was a full-blown junkie” who chose suicide by cop to escape. As teens, their parents died in a suspicious vehicular accident. Jay’s erratic behavior further estranges himself from his six-year-old son, Aiden, leaving no hope to salvage the marriage he ruined. Lifelong friend Charlie Finn drank himself to death, in 2017’s GIVE UP THE DEAD. Now why would Jay need Alprazolam and a six-pack to take off the edge?

"If you seek an inspirational thriller in Joe Clifford’s fourth Jay Porter novel, look elsewhere --- unless you can read between the lines."

At an AA meeting attempting alcohol recovery, Jay encounters Amy Lupus, a recovering heroin addict. Younger sister Emily learned from Amy never to touch drugs, and has checked herself into a rehab facility owned by the politically ambitious Lombardi brothers, Adam and Michael. Emily faked addiction to write an exposé about the corrupt facility, under the mentorship of Paul Grogan, a Berlin Patch reporter. Emily has gone missing and Jay speaks with her boyfriend, who winds up with a screwdriver stuck in his throat shortly after Jay leaves. Soon, everyone who knew Emily encounters bad things, prompting Grogan to change his name, abandon a lifelong career, and drop off the grid in another state.

Jay is not paranoid; the Lombardi bastards really are out to get him. Did he hallucinate the stranger who sliced at him with a knife? Then how did his favorite jacket get slashed? Are the incomprehensible events drug-induced imaginations?

I identify with addiction issues. Four years before my mom’s overdose death, the Rolling Stones released in 1966 Mother’s Little Helper, a song that portrays someone addicted to prescribed medications. I perceive that the author intends for Jay to hit bedrock when digging himself into a hole, where he can go no lower. There’s only one way to go: Up! I sense the next installment will feature a revitalized Jay, who finally will enact vengeance on the Lombardis. “The universe strives for balance, and karma has a way of coming back around to bite you.” Perhaps in the next Jay Porter novel, karma will have lost his dentures.

A former homeless junkie, Joe Clifford dedicates his life to helping other ex-junkies construct platforms for creative endeavors. Clifford pulled himself out of a drug death spiral to become a successful author.

Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on June 8, 2018

Broken Ground: A Jay Porter Novel
by Joe Clifford

  • Publication Date: June 5, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1608092437
  • ISBN-13: 9781608092437