by Michael Collins
Reviewed by Fence
To be totally honest this is probably a lot darker than some “dark” genre books are, and its main target is ordinary people. The protagonist, I’m not going to call him a hero, is Lawrence, a policeman who discovers a 3 year old’s body on the road. It looks like a hit and run, but it isn’t that simple and pretty soon there are cover-ups and more murders. But it isn’t really the death that makes this dark and depressing, more the situation that Lawrence finds himself in. He is divorced, can’t afford his alimony payments, becomes a pawn in a larger game that he knows nothing about, and there doesn’t really seem to be any way out for him.
At times it is seems that it should be hard to empathise with our narrator. He does some very questionable things, but they are understandable, in a way, although you still wish he wouldn’t.
The whole atmosphere of the novel is quite bleak. Hopeless would be a good way to describe it. And even when there are rare moments of joy they are soon tempered by further loss. Not one to read if you are feeling depressed, I think.
But if you aren’t, then there are plenty of reasons to read it. Yes it is depressing, but the writing is excellent. Collins does a great job of using Lawrence and his brutally honest opinions and thoughts to make the reader appreciate just how failed this nameless midwestern American town is. He manages to come right out and say the things that we don’t really want to think about, that life can be pointless and pained and that maybe there is no light to show us the way out of whatever hole we have dug ourselves into. And at the same time it is an engrossing and readable story.
I stopped the car, got out, knelt down slowly by the side of the road, and brushed the leaves aside to reveal the bent, feathered wire hangers of two broken wings. The yellowish halo of my flashlight lit up the face.
It was like discovering a sleeping angel left between the world of the living and dead (pg. 7).