Monday, December 27, 2010

The Empathy Effect

by Bob Lock

If you've ever felt sorry on behalf of someone else, multiply it by ten and you’ll have an idea of what Cooper Jones goes through in an ordinary day. In The Empathy Effect, put out by Screaming Dreams Publishing and written by Bob Lock, the reader gets a chance to acquaint themselves with Cooper's "gift" in intimate fashion -- the story opens with Cooper bound to a pier and the sea water climbing up to his neck.

From here on in, there's a sense of urgency as Cooper relates the story and all the moments leading up to how he came to find himself in his precarious situation. Set in Wales, Lock's home country, the setting forms the background, immersed in local flavor and characters without alienating readers from across the pond. The narrative is a cross between crime fiction and a comedy of errors, infused with British humor.

From the get go, one would think that having the gift of empathy to the degree that Cooper Jones does would allow him to anticipate disaster before it happens and give him a leg up in life, but his "gift" consistently has the opposite effect -- failing to save him from drunken excess, unable to realize the cute, gutsy officer right in front of him is harboring a crush on our hero, and usually walking into circumstances that backfire with hilarious results.

As a traffic warden who writes out tickets for parking violations, his duties intertwine with a violent incident. A sudden rush of feelings convinces him the van that raced past him is linked to a kidnapping. He attempts to unravel the crime-mystery with the help of his officer friend Janet but soon they become targets themselves.

Bob Lock does an excellent job of describing the kind of physical comedy whose satisfaction usually hinges on the visual; he pulls it off well, bringing to mind the hi-jinks in the movie Snatch, or, in the case of two bumbling police who attempt to apprehend Cooper and fail with gusto, the Three Stooges. The Empathy Effect is a quick and enjoyable read, especially for those who like their crime fiction tempered with humor.

You can listen to the first few chapters narrated by Mr. Lock himself here.

Purchase the book here.

Reviewed by:
Martin Rose lives in New Jersey, where he writes a range of fiction from the fantastic to the macabre, holds a degree in graphic design, and enjoys blurring the line between art and life. More details are available at

1 comment:

Bob Lock said...

Many thanks for your kind review, Martin, so glad you enjoyed the story :)