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Warning: This review is full of spoilers.
And it is long and rambling.
(I wrote this blog post before publishing my Goodreads review but did not get it posted on my website until after publishing the Goodreads review so that I could include a link to it. Feel free to take a look at it and the other reviews I’ve posted on Goodreads.)
I’m just going to come out and say it. I hated reading Mulligan. Very rarely do I come across a book that I just want to put down and never pick up again. I’m too curious for that. But I hated this book so much that it took me five freaking months to finish it. It was one of the first books I purchased for Twitter #IndieApril to support other Independent Authors by purchasing, reading, and posting reviews of their books. I don’t feel so bad that it took me so dang long to finish this because none of the other people who said they were going to review my books have done so either. So much for Indie April.
First off, and not the most important aspect of Mulligan in my opinion, is the fact that there is a lot of golf related jargon which a reader will not understand unless they are fluent in golf speak. The descriptions of game action (which there is a lot of) will be nothing but words to someone who doesn’t already know them as the author does not attempt to explain what those words mean within the context of the narration.
Instead of describing what is happening and how Jack gets his scores, the author takes the odious shortcut of saying something like “it was another birdie with a wood”. Which actually means he used a wood-club which are not made from wood anymore but metal and are the clubs made with the largest heads, are hollow, and have the longest shafts. There are nine of them.
A birdie in golf is a scoring term which “means a score of 1-under par on any individual golf hold. Par…is the expected number of strokes it should take an expert golfer to complete a hole”. None of which is explained in the book (or if it was, it was so far in the beginning of this ordeal that I had forgotten it by midway through the book). I had to look up terms for every freaking scene which involved golf which is in-freaking-sane to expect of a reader. On the other hand, I now am utterly convinced that I could probably keep score if I ever had to play golf and I might be able to figure out which clubs to use for which shots.
Now for the spoilers.
But even with the difficulty with vocabulary, I find that the absolute revulsion I have toward the main character/protagonist is what made me dislike this book. I hated the main character. Jack Jones Jr. is a spoiled, rotten, selfish, conniving, conceited little prick who doesn’t see himself as any of those things. It’s easy to see how the villains (first Robert then his son Bobby) being in the emotional states they are in to begin with can misinterpret the way things play out. I’m not saying Bobby and Robert aren’t entirely insane, just that from a psychology point of view it is easy to see how things spiraled the way they did without Jack Jones Jr or Sr having any idea of why.
Jack Jones Sr was a professional golfer who was murdered with a golf club on the green during a tournament by someone from his high school golf team who he hadn’t seen or thought about in years. Robert Mulligan. You don’t find out until the last couple of chapters of the book that Robert’s hatred of Jack Sr, stemmed from the fact that Robert had been infatuated with Jack’s wife back in high school for about a year before Jack ever met her, and it is implied that Jack knew this, but went for the girl anyway before Robert worked up the nerve to ask her out.
Jack Sr was also a better golfer. Robert Mulligan had been playing longer, but Jack Sr surpassed him and became the star player of their team and continually snubbed Robert despite Roberts effort to be his friend even though he felt betrayed by his teammate for asking out “his girl”. In a sense, Jack Sr. was a little bit of a bully, but so far this is kind of just stereotypical high school cocky-jock-jerk-ness.
But when Robert’s life doesn’t take off or get better after high school and the guy who made him feel like crap is famous and all over TV with the “girl he stole” it becomes too much for the down and out Robert who blames Jake Sr for everything which goes wrong which led to him murdering Jack Sr.
Flash forward 11 or so years and Jack Jr is a star high school then college golfer. He’s recently graduated from college which was paid for by a golfing scholarship and has to finally start thinking about getting a job and doing real work to help his mom out with some of the bills since she’s been supporting him all this time. Instead of doing the decent thing and getting a job, he decides he wants to be a professional golfer.
So instead of helping his mom out, he uses his savings to start spending more time at the golf course to practice and buy his way into golf tournaments. He justifies this by deciding that he is doing it for his father. He plans to win The Medalist, the exclusive invitation only tournament which his father was murdered while playing, in honor of his father. It will be Jack’s way of “defeating” Robert Mulligan.
While practicing one day, Jack Jr meets Bobby Shannon (who is later revealed to be the son of the murderer Robert Mulligan but which neither Bobby nor Jack Jr are aware of for the first half of the book). Bobby offers to be Jack Jr’s caddy in exchange for free golf lessons. The two become friends with Bobby decidedly more dedicated to the friendship than Jack Jr is.
Meanwhile, Jack Jr’s mom is not happy with her son pursuing golf as a career. Sure, it was okay to pay for college, but she doesn’t want her kid running in the same crowds as his dad or living the kind of on-the-road, sporadic income kind of life his dad lived. She also wants him to get a job and help pay for shit! Jack Jr’s solution? Move in with Jenny, his ex-girlfriend from high school who still has the hots for him. He broke up with her while in college because long distance was too hard (read wanted to be a free agent for college golf groupies). He plays on Jenny’s affections and moves in as her “roommate only” as he needs to focus on his career goals and not on a relationship right now, but maybe they could get together in the future.
This is the kind of asshole thing Jack Jr does repeatedly throughout the book, leading people on to get them to do what he wants them to. This leads to complications with Bobby thinking that Jenny is interested in him and that Jack has no interest in Jenny. Which results in Bobby feeling betrayed when Jack finally decides he wants Jenny back. Jenny never knew that Jack had kind of given her away to begin with. It is a repeated series of not so little things that finally lead to Bobby losing his shit and when he hears the similarities between how Jack Sr behaved toward Robert and how Jack Jr treated Bobby, it’s kind of not hard to see why things take the turn they did.
By the end of the book I was rooting for the bad guys because if I had to read one more time how humble that conceited little so-and-so Jack Jones Junior was, I was going to print out a copy of the eBook just to burn it. However, I hated the ending too because Jack Jr’s lying to, and manipulation of his unstable friend resulted in Bobby murdering two people and assaulting Jenny to help his father Robert on death row get revenge against the Jones family.
Bobby is shot before he can kill his shitty ass friend Jack Jr (No one deserves to be killed, but seeing as this is a fictional book, I was kind of hoping Jack Jr would get killed. The worst kind of person is the charismatic jackass who can convince everyone around them that they aren’t a jerk and it would have been so satisfying.). What was almost worse than our “protagonist” dying (which I’m still sad didn’t happen), is that his now fiancé Jenny is pregnant, and they don’t know if he or Bobby is the father. Jack Jr wants her to do a DNA test, but she refuses, insisting that the baby is Jack’s even as they are getting ready for the tiny private ceremony of their marriage.
On the one hand, I think the doubt and wondering Jack Jr is going to feel about that kid kind of serves him right. On the other hand, I hate that trusting, kind, non-manipulative Jenny (the most normal freaking person in the book) was eventually relegated to nothing more than a tool for her fiancé’s punishment. I find it unlikely that the baby is a result of the assault because most hospitals (as far as I’m aware) provide a contraceptive to prevent pregnancy from such situations during the exam for evidence gathering.
Maybe she’s angry about that too? Maybe Jenny figured out that Jack hadn’t originally intended to start dating her again until he decided that she would be convenient to have a relationship with? Maybe she blamed him for bringing Bobby into her life because he basically threw her to Bobby to begin with? Maybe she realized that Jack had lied to Bobby about what his relationship was with Jenny? Maybe she’s pissed off that millions of golf lovers the world round saw the police try to arrest Bobby live on television for what he did to her and everyone knows now what she’s been through? Maybe marrying Jack Jr anyways and keeping anyone from knowing if it is Jack’s or Bobby’s baby is her revenge on Jack? Maybe she was secretly in love with Bobby but chose Jack because he was more successful and famous, and she just wanted to have Bobby’s baby because she felt like what happened to him was her fault for not being with him to begin with?
I don’t know. Those questions aren’t answered. What I do know is that a lot of drama, heartache, and horror could have been avoided if someone, anyone, had ever just smacked the shit out of Jack Jr for being the prick he is. Or my God, someone just tell him “no”. No matter how many little tantrums he has, no matter how many times people tell him he’s being immature, spoiled, and childish, no one ever goes ‘maybe we shouldn’t reward this bad behavior’. Or if someone had just been kind enough to Bobby that he didn’t need to seek approval from his inmate father to feel good about himself he would never have thought of killing anyone. Whatever the reason, Jack Jr is a right spoiled prat who has lead a mostly charmed life except for his father’s murder.
All of the above is why I did not like this book. The conclusion tells readers what happened, but not why. I’m not going to tell anyone they shouldn’t read the book. Most of the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have good things to say about Mulligan. If you do choose to read the book, make sure you leave a review of it on whatever platform you purchase it from.
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