Book Review: Fraternity of Fractures by Mark Pannebecker


Title: Fraternity of Fractures

Author: Mark Pannebecker

Published: 2015

Pages: 188

Genre: Fiction

Format: Print copy mailed by author

My rating: 3/5


Phoenix and Justin Sunder are master cat burglars and best friends until Dylan Panicosky enters their circle of hedonism and crime. Set in the blighted city of St. Louis in the ‘80s, Fraternity of Fractures is a love triangle played out in an urban setting full of nocturnal decadence and danger, with all the players fractured in their own way.


This novel was more intense than I was anticipating. As most of the books I read may be more innocent or the violence may happen ‘off-screen’, I was not prepared for some of the scenes that were presented (not that they were bad!). About two-thirds of the way through, I sensed a Great Gatsby-ish plot – 2 men in love with the same woman, 1 sets the other one up intentionally because of misinformation, and the other is changing his life around. However, it took some interesting twists as it concluded. I kept having to remind myself that this story was set in the ’80s of St. Louis since the backdrop and technology were infused in the narrative.

The bigger picture beyond stealing or ‘dancing’ as the trio calls it, is that each of them arrived at this part of their lives from some kind of brokenness. What they stole was geared towards their interests and intrigue rather than what was the most valuable. Justin’s story was the most interesting as he came from a Native American tribe and felt as if he had abandoned his roots. When he first stole, it was from the rich who kept keeping their lives inside the box with their expensive furnishings and materialistic objects. He started breaking in “to show how vulnerable anyone can be…to prove that even they weren’t safely removed from the real world, no matter how many locks they put around themselves. no matter how secure they made themselves feel, they were only locking themselves in.”

The other parallel to this group that have shared brokenness is the namesake – a Fraternity of Fractures. Justin is not only scarred by his family past bit also his physical facial scar that draws attention – though he wants a combination of acceptance and ignorance whereas the people he meets with similar physical characteristics do one or the other. To Justin, he “wanted honesty without false impression and humility without insecurity”. I feel sometimes everyone can experience this with their own flaws – having that self-confidence with what makes us who we are. That’s Justin’s realization towards the end of the novel as he begins this acceptance.

Read Fraternity of Fractures if you like the themes of:

  • Sabotage
  • Friendship
  • Family roots
  • Mystery/Crime

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