Book Review and Giveaway: Alfie Carter by BJ Mayo | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

BNR Alfie Carter

ALFIE CARTER
by
BJ Mayo
Published by Skyhorse Publishing
Pages: 288
Published: January 19th, 2021
Categories: Southern Fiction / Rural Fiction / Mystery
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Cover Alfie Carter med res

The seemingly never-ending Cabinda War (1975—) has left multitudes dead in its wake and thousands of children homeless and orphaned.

Jackaleena N’denga, a young Angolan girl, has become the sole survivor of one specifically brutal village massacre carried out by a band of guerrilla boy-soldiers.

Jackaleena’s resilience leads her to an orphanage on the west coast of Africa, known as Benguela by the Sea, where she and other children are taken in and protected. Her brilliant mind and endless questions capture the heart of her mentor, Margaret, who ensures her that her survival thus far—especially being the survivor from her village—must mean she has big things ahead of her. When the opportunity arises, she must find her purpose.

Not without a plan, Jackaleena stows away on a mercy ship that has made its yearly visit to the orphanage and is now preparing to return to America. Her journey takes her across the ocean, into the arms of New York City’s customs officials, and finally into placement in a temporary foster home in Texas.

Enter Alfie Carter—a workaholic, small-town detective who is also battling memories of his past. His life is forever changed when he meets a young African girl looking for her higher purpose.

Alfie Carter is told from the point of view of the titular Alfie, and also from the point of view of Jackaleena, a young girl from an African village. It’s a story that, at its heart, is about how our reaction to adversity shapes us, about finding faith – perhaps for the first time, perhaps coming back to it, and about discovering purpose and meaning in life.

The story starts at the end and flashes back to the beginning. Jackaleena – Jackie – is a tough-as-nails prosecutor who finds herself emotionally wrecked by her current case. In the judge’s chambers, we start to learn her story through flashbacks. As a young girl living in an African village, Jackaleena sees her entire village slaughtered by guerilla fighters. She is able to make her way to Benguela by the Sea, a missionary compound doing its best to care for the children orphaned by war. Even at her relatively early age, Jackaleena is possessed of a fierce determination. At Benguela, she sees a mercy ship anchored offshore. When she learns that it is going to America, she decides to stow away on the mercy ship and go there to find the big purpose that Jesus Man must have for her.

Our introduction to Alfie takes place on his annual pilgrimage up to the mountains, where he goes to deal with the painful anniversary of his infant daughter’s death. Since his daughter’s death, Alfie has distanced himself from his wife, Bea, and pretty much given up on God. He throws himself into his work as a detective in the small town of Spring, Texas. His tenacity on the case has earned him the nickname of Bulldog. But his marriage languishes.

We learn a great deal about Jackaleena and Alfie through the unfolding of their stories, but they don’t cross paths until about the last ten percent of the book. So this isn’t a book where your main characters meet and have the entire book to let their relationship build. It’s more of a slow burn that could leave itself open for more of the story to be told in a second book.

It was interesting to see how the two main characters responded to adversity so differently. Jackaleena didn’t let grief or mourning deter her from her goals. Once she made up her mind on something, nothing slowed her down or derailed her plans. Alfie, on the other hand, let grief drive a wedge between him and Bea, to the point that he wouldn’t even visit his daughter’s grave or share his grief with Bea. He felt the need to be by himself to wrestle with his anger and loss.

I’ve always heard you should write what you know. I don’t think Alfie Carter is necessarily autobiographical in nature, but I do think BJ Mayo has known folks in his life that inspired his characters. Alfie, in particular, reads like someone you could work with, someone who lives next door. And I really liked some of the minor characters, such as Dr. Lynn and Rufus Obediah. These people, who had no real incentive to do so, helped Jackaleena on her journey just because they’re decent people. They made me smile.

I reviewed an advance copy, so I am hoping that some of the editing issues I noticed will be corrected in the final copy.  One thing that may not, though, is it seemed like no one spoke using contractions, and that  got stilted and awkward very quickly. It would have made sense for Jackaleena as she was learning English, but I don’t think I’ve ever known a Texan not to use contractions when they talk. I also noticed several instances with point-of-view changes, and that was distracting enough that it broke up the flow of the story to me.

Overall, though, the story and characters are engaging and interesting enough to carry the day. Alfie Carter is a solid four-star read for me.

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author pic Mayo

BJ Mayo was born in an oil field town in Texas. He spent the first few years of his life living in a company field camp twenty-five miles from the closest town. His career in the energy industry took him to various points in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Louisiana, Bangladesh, Australia, and Angola West Africa. He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for forty-six years with two grown children. They live on a working farm near San Angelo, Texas.
Visit BJ Mayo at his website: https://bjmayo.com/

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THREE WINNERS each receive an autographed copy of ALFIE CARTER.

US only. Ends midnight, CST, March 5, 2021.

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1 Response to Book Review and Giveaway: Alfie Carter by BJ Mayo | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

  1. I had to laugh at your point about the lack of contractions — it’s so true! Great review. Thanks for sharing this book.

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