I just finished reading Sick Like That by Norman Green. This was one of my random picks off the new release shelf at the library and, although my response at first was not positive, I actually came out enjoying the story.
The story revolves mainly around Alessandra Martillo and Sarah Waters, two very different women who take over some sort of investigation agency after the PI Marty Stiles is shot and paralyzed during a job. Alessandra (Al) is, in the nicest way possible, a bitch from Brooklyn. She is the epitome of what you picture when you describe a street-smart broad who grew up in Brooklyn. She’s tough and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. Sarah Waters is a single-mom who was also raised on the tough streets of Brooklyn, but she is quite a bit more naive than Al. They become partners in the agency, while Marty is stuck in rehab and deciding whether he thinks his life is worth fighting through recovery. Al and Sarah are really the focus of the story, with Marty given seemingly random scenes at various points in the plot.
My first instinct with Mr. Green’s writing was kind of negative. I felt that he didn’t write in the female perspective very well, relying mainly on stereotypes than letting his characters speak for themselves. However, Al and Sarah are two separate individuals and, through the motion of the story, finally develop their own identities. They aren’t just Brooklyn-Italian broads seen time and again in various books and movies. They become human, and very relatable.
Frankie, the ex-husband of Sarah, was an interesting character to me, if only because I read him as speaking in the same voice as Frankie Buglione from “Jerseylicious” (which I totally don’t watch because I am way too elite for something so trashy….). I could picture his big and bulky stature, towering over Sarah in confrontation, but also a little soft in manner and sad in the eyes. He’s just a kid grown up on the streets of Brooklyn, waiting for his big break to get out of the gutter.
There are two main plot-lines happening throughout Sick Like That. First, the women are hired by a dying widow to locate her stepson so she can, presumably, pass on her fortune to him. Sarah takes on the bulk of this case, even though previously she had only been stuck at a desk doing administrative work before Marty got shot. The second case, isn’t really a case at all. Instead, Sarah’s ex-husband (Frankie) gets involved in something she thinks might be pretty shady, and Al decides to investigate. Both plot-lines prove to be entertaining and well-thought out.
I got about halfway through the story, when I almost decided to give up on the whole thing. The beginning is slow to pick up, and I struggled to keep wading through. But I did, and I was duly rewarded. The last third of the book is action-packed, jolting the reader with anti-government conspiracy theories, and Sarah starts adopting a little of Al’s street-smarts, which makes her much more likable than the naive “woe-is-me” character she started out as. The last few chapters become so intense, I couldn’t put the book down until I knew the ending. And, let me tell you, the ending is pretty shocking.
Sick Like That, although slow to pick up, really is worth a read in the long run. The last third reads like your favorite crime-thriller-action movie, and will have you hooked at the first mention of conspiracy theory.
**This book review is also available on Associated Content***