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Book Review: The Crimes of Rooker Flynn

Table of Contents

A fast-paced jungle adventure for the rebel in all of us, this is a story of courage, friendship, and survival inside a deadly magic school.

The Locke Institute has only three rules:

1) Obey your betters.

2) Gather at sunrise.

3) Be inside by sundown.

But some men can’t be told what to do.

Rooker Flynn is a rebellious, hot-tempered pirate who never met a rule he didn’t break. He wants his freedom, and he will stop at nothing to get it.

But the Headmistress is determined to break Rooker’s spirit; she will use bounty hunters, giant poisonous spiders, and an arsenal of dark secrets to keep her pupils in line.

Good thing Rooker knows one student who is smarter than all the rest put together; a kid genius who knows strange mysteries that are not of this world.

Working together, Rooker’s bravado and the kid’s brains might be enough to outwit their captor and stage a daring escape…or die trying.

Perfect for those who loved Red Rising, A Deadly Education, and The Great Escape, this is a fast-paced page-turner that you will keep you in suspense until the very last page.

-A.R. Witham

Book Information

  • Title: The Crimes of Rooker Flynn
  • Series: The Locke Institute Trilogy #1
  • Author: A.R. Witham
  • Page Count: 369
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Rating: 4.5/5.0
  • Date Read: June 8th, 2024

Opening Thoughts

I’ve had my eye on The Crimes of Rooker Flynn by A.R. Witham since I initially heard he was working on another book. I’ve completed The Legend of Black Jack twice (visual read Sept 2022 and audio Dec 2022) as well as the novella The Tale of the Border Knight in June of last year. I’ve really been enjoying Witham’s storytelling style. The eARC’s were made available near the end of May with mention of a release in about a month so keep your eyes out for this one!


I personally felt the pacing of Rooker Flynn was on par with the author’s other books. They are fairly fast paced as far as reading through the story. There isn’t none stop action by any means, but I have yet to feel any kind of slog through his works. There are a lot of characters to keep up with in this one but I didn’t feel overwhelmed meaning they were introduced and taking part at a good pace. We really only have the two main POV’s of Jack and Rooker so that might help a bit. One thing I noticed and mentioned in a discussion with friend post reading was this was seemed a bit different as far as the overall theme. I wasn’t sure how to state it as it wasn’t necessarily “darker” than Black Jack but perhaps just dire. I’ll touch on this a bit more in the world building.

World Building

“This story has sharper teeth than The Legend of Black Jack, but then again, so does Rooker Flynn.”

I figured I’d start with a quote from A.R. Witham in the eARC email that was sent out. This seems a good example of the feel I just mentioned. The majority of this story takes place in a re-education or prison camp which really sets the tone of things. This island though still has a lot going on with different areas and factions of prisoners as well as the school itself. Environmentally there are plenty of changes between day and night, heat and drenching rains and a constant fear of the different types of arachnids on this island. Why does it always have to be spiders!?

Another mention of the brief conversation I had with my friend as that I felt the majority of this story provided us just the slimmest of hope almost the entire time. My recent reading has me constantly feeling like I can’t trust characters but this time, it seems even the characters themselves don’t seem to trust anyone else either.

Character Development

The character development was also done well. We certainly learn more about both Rooker and Jack in this story whether that’s a good or bad thing may yet to be determined in future installments of this series. One of my favorite aspects of Witham’s books so far though is the sheer amount of unique characters. Whether that is different races or just the characters depth themselves. I mentioned there were a lot of characters in this story and each one is so different. There was some solid arcs on supporting characters as well. The Head Mistress is a very unique and interesting character as well as a couple of the prisoners whether they seem with or against Rooker and Jack.

Roundup & Recommendation

All of this combined makes for such an interesting and entertaining story. This one might not be as whimsical as the previous reads from this author but it’s still a truly fantastical world populated with great characters and an interesting plot to tie it all together.

Overall this read finished as quite a surprising scene but I still enjoyed this one as much as I have The Legend of Black Jack and The Tale of the Border Knight. It’s a different tone this time around but it’s still very easy to see A.R. Witham’s style as well.

I would certainly recommend this to fans of either of Witham’s previous releases, just keep in mind this might be a little less fairytale and a bit more dire compared to those. If you haven’t read anything from this author I think you could still enjoy this read as an initial entry into his works. If you like a dire fantastical fantasy world with interesting characters, definitely check out The Crimes of Rooker Flynn!


World Building 4.5/5
Pacing 4.5/5
Character Development 4.5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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