[Review] Marked for Life by Morgan Dark: Lost In Translation Thriller

I received a free copy to review on Netgalley. The premise is interesting and that's all I knew going into Marked for Life.

It started off...okay. It felt a different than other novels in this genre due to translation. If it was updated, I'd give it another shot and think it'd be much better. There's plenty of action and it works as a thriller. But in it's current iteration, it's hard to recommend.


Content Warning: Rape, Graphic Violence, Abuse


Series: Jana Berzelius #1
Genre: Thriller, Crime
Age: Adult
Format: Ebook, 384 pgs.
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 1.5 Stars
Recommendable? Conditionally
CW: Rape, Graphic Violence, Abuse, 
When a high-ranking head of the migration board is found shot to death in his living room, there is no shortage of suspects, including his wife. But no one expects to find the mysterious child-sized handprint in the childless home.

Public prosecutor Jana Berzelius steps in to lead the investigation. Young and brilliant but emotionally cold, Berzelius, like her famous prosecutor father, won't be swayed by the hysterical widow or intimidated by the threatening letters the victim had tried to hide. Jana is steely, aloof, impenetrable. That is, until the boy…

A few days later on a nearby deserted shoreline, the body of a preteen boy is discovered, and with him, the murder weapon that killed him and the original victim. Berzelius is drawn more deeply into the case for as she attends his autopsy, she recognizes something strangely familiar in his small, scarred, heroin-riddled body. Cut deep into his flesh are initials that scream child trafficking and trigger in her a flash of memory of her own dark, fear-ridden past. Her connection to this boy has been carved with deliberation and malice that penetrate to her very core.

Now, to protect her own hidden past, she must find the suspect behind these murders, before the police do.

International bestselling author Emelie Schepp introduces us to the enigmatic, unforgettable Jana Berzelius in this first novel of a chilling trilogy.

eBook IconTrigger Warning IconAdult Icon Crime Icon Suspense/Thriller IconCliffhanger Icon





The Good The Bad & The Other
+Solid on paper, I’m sure better in the original Swedish. -Do not like how the rapist thread was just dropped. It served its purpose, shocking and disgusting, and the victims received no treatment, justice, or follow up. They were used as tools by both the story and the rapist.
-The "WHAT???" cliffhanger ending. I didn't see any mention of sequel until I googled it afterward. Don't think I'll continue.
-I believe translation played a major role in every other issue: stilted characters that sounded the same with repetition.



Characters:


Characters are stilted and unnatural with repetition. Some of it I think is using proper English instead of the relaxed mish-mash of everyday speech. One example that stood out was Henrik’s “The Boss! Oh yeah!” in the car, which left me wondering who talked/acted like that. They read like robots with better human programming than Jana. Out of context it doesn't sound so bad, but while reading it was cringe worthy.

Location 575: (when water gets into his sock) "Oh great! Really great!"

Location 820: "'My spontaneous reaction...'"

Location 1189: "'That's not the only thing she has lied about. I must get a hold of Henrik right away!'" [Why not lose the last sentence and have him actually rush off?]

Location 1642: "He was becoming increasingly irritated. They were still getting nowhere with the investigation and that was extremely frustrating."

Location 2630: "He was hanging his head as if he had done something wrong and was ashamed."

Location 3474: "...she clenched her teeth and put all her force behind the blow. The muscles in her back tensed, in her shoulders too, and she hit as hard as she could."


**mutters stupid no-page Kindle...**

Also, the conversations were hard to follow for most of the book as characters sounded alike. If Mia wasn't being crude and broke, if Hendrik wasn't a stereotypical whining husband, if The Boss wasn't using exclamation point order, and if Jana wasn’t a being a robot, there’s no difference in their speech. Everyday talk, especially about the case, didn’t warm up (or maybe I adapted to it) until much later in the book.

The Plot:


The split perspectives of the girl and the investigators was done well and I really enjoyed it. The girl’s POV brought the needed emotion and exhilaration. The case has it all but once Jana’s first realization, some parts become predictable.

Marked for Life didn’t start making solid improvements until the last 80% for me. It was hard to feel anything most of the time. Once Jana’s fa├žade started cracking and villain POV’s starting showing up, the story became interesting. Yet every time I put it down, it was easy to leave it there.

Then it ended and I was left wondering, WTF? Turned to Google and found it was a trilogy and originally published in Swedish in 2013.

Note:Around 42-45%, there's a passage about Janna. But afterwards, it immediately repeats that previous passage’s first half. Then it flips to Mia, then it repeats the second half of Jana’s passage.

Bottomline:



In dire need of editing. It’s hard to judge because on paper it all sounds good, but the execution with its current version leaves a lot to be desired.

Recommended For: 
If you can accept/look past the issues with translation. Reading the original Swedish would be the best option though. If it's updated, I'd be willing to read it again and am sure it'd be recommendable for general fans of the genre then.

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