Book Review: “Bad Memories” by Douglas Sandler (@douglas5102)



A good look at Douglas Sandler’s Bad Memories (2015) reveals the writing requires a fair bit of editing. However, the story quickly establishes John Miller as an intriguing protagonist. Miller operates a “pill machine” — a gadget that stamps medical tablets one at a time. It is from such a robotic, repetitive and exhausting work routine that Miller steps into a mystery, an echo from his past working at an asylum.

Having left his dominating wife Julie at home, Miller intends to go on a fishing trip with Albert Smith, the doctor with whom he used to work at the asylum. However, once he discovers Albert is dead, memories of his past come back to haunt him: “Once a man has killed, he may kill again.” The memories prompt him to take action and investigate another death.

As often seen in this type of fiction, it is through the protagonist’s attempt to uncover horrific secrets that his own secret is gradually revealed. Also common is the protagonist’s inner conflict between a desperate need to evade the prying eyes of others and a burning desire to expose everything and find relief. But Sandler manages his protagonist well – he keeps a firm grip on Miller, so much so that the former physician remains tortured by bad memories throughout his investigative journey. You cannot help but admire Miller, a reflective soul, a keen eye to silent and prolonged suffering, a frequent visitor to nightmares. Miller’s private thoughts make him one of the many unforgettable literary characters this reviewer has encountered. Almost like Ben Mears.

In the end, the mysteries have a fascinating twist. It is here that you really want to know the answer, but Sandler keeps you dangling, in the same way that Agatha Christie did and still does. In the usual manner, characters keep dying and/or evolving until the truth is finally revealed. As Miller desperately tries to sort out his confused mind, you become seriously concerned about his sanity and safety, like you do with Louis Creed.

The ending is satisfying, but here is a question for Sandler and other authors to reflect upon. Do we really want the protagonist to find the answer he wants? Do we want Miller to restore his faith in humanity and himself, so that we as readers can feel good about life in general? Or, do we want him to soldier on, using his medical knowledge to solve more mysterious while struggling to tame his own shadow? This reviewer would probably prefer a broken mirror pieced together by glue – you can see a reflection again, but the cracks are always there.

Transparency: The author of this book has offered a free review copy, but the coupon for Smashwords did not work. So this reviewer purchased a copy.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. douglas sandler
    Jan 09, 2016 @ 18:00:47

    thank you for the review, sorry the coupon didn’t work, not sure what happened. I figured $300 for pro-editing was better than none

    but I guess you get what you pay for. The second question would this book sell well in China? would this book be able to sell

    in China? would the translation be affordable?

    I want to translate the book into several languages, as I feel that will help sales if I can translate it for others to read. Let me know.



  2. Christine Sun
    Jan 09, 2016 @ 23:15:47

    Hello Douglas, it would be a big fat lie if I said I could predict whether the book would sell in the Chinese World once it is translated into Chinese. No one can predict it. We can only do our best.

    What I can say is that you have a good story there.

    It seems to me that the editor you hired did work on the story to some degree. But at one stage he or she stopped, leaving various grammatical mistakes and vague sentences where they are. There are places where you could clarify things a bit more clearly. Still, I honestly think it is a good story. A bit raw, but good.

    Hope this helps. Christine Sun.


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