Promises Unfulfilled

Bad Karma - Andrew Harper

Bad Karma by Douglas Clegg (under the pseudonym of Andrew Harper) is a pretty short novel.  In fact, I would qualify it less as a novel and more of a novella.  Coming in at under 200 pages per my Nook, the book is a bit like a McDonalds cheeseburger - sure it will satisfy your hunger, but it doesn't have much complexity of flavor.


Let me start by saying that I really enjoy Douglas Clegg's work and was excited to see this book available for a song (okay, maybe they really wanted money and not just to hear my lilting aria) at Barnes and Noble.  I wanted to like the book a lot more than I actually did in the end.  


Bad Karma is the tale of a Psych Technician, Trey Campbell, who works at a hospital for the criminally insane.  He's rather burnt out and takes his family on vacation to Catalina Island.  Meanwhile, Agnes Hatcher, a psychopath sometimes referred to as the "Surgeon" or the "Gorgon", escapes her restraints and lives up to her surgeon nickname.  Because Trey and Agnes formed a bond years ago before she was fully restrained, Agnes hightails it for Trey's vacation spot.


This is where the novel really begins to fall apart for me.  First off, Agnes has been restrained (and has worn a face cover) for many years and yet she is strong enough to overpower pretty much anyone she comes in contact with.  I have difficulty believing that any person, insane or not, would have that sort of strength after being tied down to a bed for even several months - let alone years.  Then there are the vague glimpses of some torture that she experienced as a child.  Maybe I missed something.  Maybe I was overly tired.  But I never really engaged with that part of the story.  There's also these "flashbacks" to a past life that never really go anywhere.  I could imagine what the story COULD be, but it never really fleshed out the details which would have brought me, the reader, into the story.


The book moves quickly, one could say TOO quickly, but never really feels like it lives up to it's potential.  I never felt apprehensive for the main characters, I never really worried about their safety - mainly because the story didn't make me care about them. The subplots that are hinted at but never fully developed just left this reader counting down the pages until the book was finished.  While the story has promise, it mainly leaves those promises unfulfilled.