Book Review: Burnout by James Vachowski

They say there’s a first time for everything.  Today, I’ll be writing about someone else’s writing.  I was contacted by James Vachowski via email.  He told me he was seeking law enforcement bloggers who would be interested in reviewing his first mystery novel, “Burnout”.

I am a voracious reader.  I am also cheap frugal.  I saw an opportunity here.  I responded to Mr. Vachowski that I would indeed be interested in reviewing his novel.  He sent me a .pdf file of “Burnout” and I got to reading.

Before I delve into the novel itself, allow me to make a few things clear.

1. I don’t know Mr. Vachowski from a hole in the wall.  Based on the fact that he wrote a book, however, I will assume he is not, in fact, an actual hole in a wall.

2. It seems fair that I add that I was not compensated (other than receiving a copy of the book gratis) for what follows which means I can be just as honest as I want because I owe him nothing.

3. If you’ve been around the blog long enough, you know I’m not a grammatical wunderkind, so I’ll leave that to others and just talk about the story.

4. I’m not a professional reviewer or editor, but Lord knows I have an opinion and I know a thing or two about police work, so there’s that.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the book from Mr. Vachowski’s website:

Goosey Larsen isn’t your average detective, and it’s doubtful that he’ll ever reach that level of performance.  His annual personnel review described him as someone who “lacks motivation” and “needs to improve his interpersonal skills.”  Goosey can usually be found coming in late or sneaking out early, but when dead bodies start turning up in downtown Charleston, Goosey is forced to do the one thing he hates most:  police work.

Mr. Vachowski is a former police officer, having spent seven years with the Charleston, South Carolina PD, and another two years as an International Police Advisor in Iraq.  That being said, it seems he may know a thing or two about police work as well.

The book opens a bit unexpectedly with what seems to be the paranoid ramblings of a once-great superhero and then abruptly shifts gears to the main character, Det. Larsen.  Initially, it felt a bit clunky, but after a second occurrence, I began to see the pieces falling into place and it wasn’t as off-putting as I had first feared.  We are first introduced to Det. Larsen coming off a bit of a bender and being rudely awoken by his department pager.  He’s off and running to a fresh crime scene and a less than fresh body.

The stereotype of the borderline alcoholic cop is well-documented to say the least.  The characters that populate the pages of “Burnout” are also well-entrenched in stereotype as well.

But, you know what?  Stereotypes exist for a reason.  I found myself able to put a face to each of the character’s names based on my real life experiences.  What I found fascinating/amazing/alarming was the fact that so many of the behavior’s and attitudes in the novel (which takes place in South Carolina) are as real as the day is long here on the Left Coast.

Burnout was a pretty quick read.  My only issue was downloading the .pdf to my Nook played hell with fonts.  The arbitrarily messed with the size and it made reading it a trifle more difficult than need be.  Of course, I don’t think that reflects on the book at all, but probably more on my Nook.

The plot line moved well and I found myself sympathizing with Det. Larsen and his approach to police work.  Not being a detective myself, I identified with his lack of interest in Investigations.  In one moment, I found myself wondering just why the hell Larsen chose to be a detective if his motivation was nearly non-existent and in the next pounding the pavement stride for stride with him as he begrudgingly did his best to solve his cases.  There was clearly a battle of wills within Larsen.  One the one hand, he doesn’t really want to be a cop, but on the other, he strives to give justice to the victims he stumbles across.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I’d recommend it as a good poolside or beach read.  There was one thing I take issue with, however.  The portrayal of the Traffic Division and my fellow motor officers (although fictional) was only existent when talking a bit of smack.  Now, I must find out what Mr. Vachowski drives and keep an eye out for his car.

Yeah, it’s like that.

Burnout is available at all major digital book retailers, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as on the Solstice Publishing website at  You can follow James Vachowski on Twitter and on Facebook as well.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Burnout by James Vachowski

  1. MC, thanks again for taking the time to review “Burnout!” Can’t wait to return the favor someday.

    Oh and FYI, I currently drive whatever’s available in the rental car fleet when I touch down. Should I ever come out to the left coast, I’ll be sure to request a hybrid so I don’t stand out.

  2. Hey MC, thanks for the review. It makes me want to check this book out, which I will do ASAP. I would have liked to hear a bit more about the plot, though, and/or what other books it does or doesn’t resemble/remind you of. Just to give me a bit more of a feel for it, if you know what I mean. 🙂

  3. I am always looking for a good book to read, so thanks for the review!

    .pdf’s are notoriously bad on e-readers of all kind. They are also horrible to convert to .epub, .mobi, and the like. They are better served on pc, laptop, and iPad.

  4. Just stopping back in to spread the word that “Burnout” is now available in a print format for the 2% of the US population without e-readers, thanks to my benefactors at Solstice Publishing and Thanks again for all of the support!

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