Caina Book Cover Caina
Joe Albanese
Mockingbird Lane Press
July 5, 2018

Growing up, Lee Tolan was barely the shadow of his twin brother, Grant, and eventually grew to despise him. After ten years of not seeing him and in debt to multiple gangs, Lee has no choice but to crawl back to his estranged brother. Upon learning of Grant's untimely death, Lee assumes his twin’s identity to finally bask in his glory. But there, forced into deals with the mob, the DEA, and a drone delivery company, Lee finds that in the corners of Grant’s success are dark secrets that will finally show Lee the brother he never really knew.


A copy of Caina was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Caina follows the story of Lee, a man with debts associated with the less-than-savory members of the Los Angeles community. With nowhere else to turn, he reaches out to his estranged twin brother, Grant. But Grant was not entirely the little-goody-two-shoes Lee remembered, and Lee’s problems soon go from bad to worse. For a little novella, Caina was pretty entertaining. It had its ups and downs but was overall a fun little story.

Personally, I am not used to novellas. Most of my reading comes from novels, so that does affect my judgment with Caina. This story seemed like it could have had more to it. The small page count keeps things fast-paced, with things like mid-chapter scene jumps between paragraphs. These transitions are a bit rough and can make it a little tricky to follow the story.

For the limited page count, the characters are very well developed. Lee is a deadbeat but grows throughout the story as he is forced to play the role of Grant. His friends/associates are pulled into this mess with him and none of them are quite the same by the end. Everyone gets a little growth and development instead of being 2D cutouts.

If you read the synopsis, you pretty much know what Caina is about. It follows a fairly by-the-book pattern for this type of mystery-crime story. The short length makes the novella feel more like an episode of a crime drama TV show than anything else. On the whole, it is a good little afternoon read with deeper, underlying tones. If Joe Albanese wanted to expand this into a full-fledged novel, he could do it. There is room here for a lot more, but as it is now the story is still good.

April 14, 2019

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