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Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus

The Blurb On The Back:

A man with a consuming addiction.
A woman who talks to God.
And the secret connection that could destroy them both …


Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.




Jerry Dresden is an overweight loser with an addiction to porn and a psychological condition that causes him to hallucinate people who aren’t there. His psychological problems began when he was 17 and he was involved in a car accident that killed his father (the head of PR for Matthew Mann, the most powerful film producer in Hollywood). Jerry works as a Colour Imaging Specialist at the Art Institute of Chicago – it’s a low level job that Roland (an old friend of his parents) got for him as a favour for his mother (a college professor specialising in Joan of Arc).

When Roland is murdered and a Van Gogh on loan to Institute from Mann goes missing, Jerry is the prime suspect. But he knows who did it – a woman who doesn’t exist, a woman from his hallucinations. This woman – Epiphany Jones - blackmails Jerry into helping her on a mysterious mission that will pitch both of them into the heart of the seedy and dangerous world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite and ultimately on a quest for redemption …

Michael Grothaus’s debut novel is a pitch black comedy, slickly plotted thriller about sex trafficking, the influence of the media, addiction and the need for hope and redemption and while it definitely won’t be to everyone’s tastes, it’s sharp, sometimes bleak read with something to say and it kept me laughing as I turned the pages. What Grothaus does really well is show Jerry’s self-awareness as to how pathetic and cowardly he is but at the same time show the humanity underneath (notably in his flashback scenes with his younger sister Emma but also through his developing friendship with Bela). His relationship with the damaged and dangerous Epiphany is equal parts hatred, fascination, pity and Stockholm syndrome and he neatly feeds in allusions to Joan of Arc. There are some elements that didn’t work for me – at times the tone shifts are too sudden and the ending feels like it’s missing a chapter in that one character doesn’t really get a resolution and in fact, seems to be in worse trouble than they were at the start. However this is offset by Grothaus’s pertinent comments on the malign influence of the media, the sharpness of the humour and the pace of the story. Grothaus is a writer to watch and I will definitely be checking our his next novel.

The Verdict:

Michael Grothaus’s debut novel is a pitch black comedy, slickly plotted thriller about sex trafficking, the influence of the media, addiction and the need for hope and redemption and while it definitely won’t be to everyone’s tastes, it’s sharp, sometimes bleak read with something to say and it kept me laughing as I turned the pages. What Grothaus does really well is show Jerry’s self-awareness as to how pathetic and cowardly he is but at the same time show the humanity underneath (notably in his flashback scenes with his younger sister Emma but also through his developing friendship with Bela). His relationship with the damaged and dangerous Epiphany is equal parts hatred, fascination, pity and Stockholm syndrome and he neatly feeds in allusions to Joan of Arc. There are some elements that didn’t work for me – at times the tone shifts are too sudden and the ending feels like it’s missing a chapter in that one character doesn’t really get a resolution and in fact, seems to be in worse trouble than they were at the start. However this is offset by Grothaus’s pertinent comments on the malign influence of the media, the sharpness of the humour and the pace of the story. Grothaus is a writer to watch and I will definitely be checking our his next novel.

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