Archive | 10:08 AM

Book Review: August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones (2/5)

23 Mar

This isn’t a book I would have ever picked, but my book club picked it for me. I was over halfway through when the library canceled all it’s programming through the end of the month which included the meeting for this book. I decided to finish it anyway since my weekend slowed down A LOT.

Cover image via Goodreads

August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones

Summary from Goodreads:

Tough, smart, and struggling to stay afloat, August Snow is the embodiment of Detroit. The son of an African American father and a Mexican mother, August grew up in Detroit’s Mexicantown and joined the Detroit police only to be drummed out of the force by a conspiracy of corrupt cops and politicians. But August fought back; he took on the city and got himself a $12 million wrongful dismissal settlement that left him low on friends. He has just returned to the house he grew up in after a year away and quickly learns he has many scores to settle.

It’s not long before he’s summoned to the palatial Grosse Pointe Estates home of business magnate Eleanore Paget. Powerful and manipulative, Paget wants August to investigate the increasingly unusual happenings at her private wealth management bank. But detective work is no longer August’s beat, and he declines. A day later, Paget is dead of an apparent suicide which August isn’t buying for a minute.

What begins as an inquiry into Eleanore Paget’s death soon drags August into a rat’s nest of Detroit’s most dangerous criminals, from corporate embezzlers to tattooed mercenaries. From the wealthy suburbs to the near-post-apocalyptic remains of the bankrupt city’s factory districts, August Snow is a fast-paced tale of murder, greed, sex, economic cyber-terrorism, race and urban decay in modern Detroit.

The plot in this one didn’t bother me too much, but August was not a character I connected with or liked. He was too overpowered and perfect. He was rich, smart, well connected, and physically fit. There was nothing he couldn’t do. And he surrounded himself with men who were some subset of those things as well to make a strong team. The people in this were just too perfect. It started to bother me. I also felt like someone who didn’t live in Detroit wouldn’t be able to connect to this book at all. There were a lot of city references and directions that I understood but I’m not sure someone from a different part of the state would even enjoy it.

August was just too unbelievable. For every situation, he was the only person poised to solve it. Nothing that came up was beyond his abilities and he seemed to know just the right things to keep the plot moving. It’s a similar complaint that I have about Robert Langdon in Dan Brown’s books. But this one stood out to me more. The money and riches pushed it over the edge for me.

Vivian Paget was the only character I felt was realistic. She wasn’t a gun-hungry ex-military sharpshooter. She had real pain in her past and was able to add surprise to the story later on without it feeling too forced or unusual. I found her character interesting and nuanced and I’m sad she was such a short part of the story.

Despite the familiar setting, none of this story was relatable to me. The characters were really removed from my reality. I did relate to the setting. Picturesque Traverse City and a character who worked at a Kroger grocery store a few miles from my apartment hit home with me. I understood those and they helped me feel close to the story, but the characters still eluded me.

Stephen Mack Jones
Image via Publisher’s Weekly

I liked the scene in Traverse City. It’s mostly because of Vivian and the advancement in her character development. It reminded me a bit of the end of Skyfall which is my favorite part of that movie, too. Honestly, not much else stood out.

The constant descriptions of food bothered me. This wasn’t a book that needed to make me feel hungry. I also disliked how the character talked like no one in the world understood how good the food he was eating tasted and no one could experience food that tasted like that. It was annoyingly repetitive and made me binge eat more than I should have.

Snow was fighting for a Detroit he remembered that he felt he was losing. The people he remembered from his childhood were leaving or gone and he wanted some sense of his community back. It felt like he could have done it with the money he had if he’d planned a bit better, but he liked to throw it around more than he probably should have. He invested in individuals because he believed in people. I wish he’d believed in community more since that seemed like what he was trying to reestablish.

Writer’s Takeaway: As a writer, you want to engage all five senses so the reader can become fully immersed in the story. I don’t think Jones balanced them well because taste was so overwhelming. I think this could have had some more sound and smell imagery to balance it better.

Not a great binge read, maybe I would have enjoyed it more without quarantine-levels of reading time. Two out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Post:
PODCAST: Stephen Mack Interview on Novel August Snow | KAZI Book Review with Hopeton Hay, KAZI 88.7FM, Austin, TX