Paperback, 283 pages
2013, by Hard Case Crime
Reviewed by Tom Hunter
“When you’re twenty-one, life is a roadmap. It’s only when you get to be twenty-five or so that you begin to suspect that you’ve been looking at the map upside down, and not until you’re forty are you entirely sure. By the time you’re sixty, take it from me, you’re fucking lost.”
I read this book three times in a row. It is so well put together that I spend too many hours trying to grok what made it so appealing. I even wrote out kind of an outline/analysis of how the hell he pulled it off.
“People think first love is sweet, and never sweeter than when that first bond snaps. You’ve heard a thousand pop and country songs that prove the point; some fool got his heart broke. Yet that first broken heart is always the most painful, the slowest to mend, and leaves the most visible scar. What’s so sweet about that?”
The book’s got great, interesting characters. Interesting look inside carney life. Suspenseful twisting plot. Love interest, virgin deflowering. The language of the carnival (apparently it has its own dictionary).
The main character, with many of Stephen King’s own characteristics, is totally oblivious to the dangers spoken of by the Jewish/grandmother/ gypsy/ psychic.
One of the reasons that I really enjoyed this book was that I became so attached to the main character. A broken hearted high school graduate, dumped in slow motion by the love of his life. He heads off to South Carolina to spend the summer learning to be a carnie and earn money for college. He turns out to be a great entertainer of children and dogs and even becomes a dog.
Of course, there is a dark side to this carnival. Murder most foul, even though the murder happened twenty years prior in one of the dark side rides on the midway. No murderer was ever collared. But plenty of second hand witnesses are still in town. Now if he hasn’t been warned enough of the danger; a 10 year old boy gives him more vague foreshadowing… Anyway, I hope this piques your interest, because this is a great summer read.
“Pops gave him a cool stare that settled Tom down – a thing not always easy to do. “Son, do you know what history is?”“Uh…stuff that happened in the past?”
“Nope,” he said, trying on his canvas change-belt. “History is the collective and ancestral shit of the human race, a great big and ever growing pile of crap. Right now, we’re standin at the top of it, but pretty soon we’ll be buried under the doodoo of generations yet to come. That’s why your folks’ clothes look so funny in old photographs, to name but a single example. And, as someone who’s destined to buried beneath the shit of your children and grandchildren, I think you should be just a leetle more forgiving.”