As part of an effort to keep this blog from growing too much moss on it, I will try to post the occasional book review for books that aren’t (gasp) written by Nordic authors so not appropriate for my other blog.
I should also provide a warning: stand back, this is a rave.
Thanks to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, I got a new book by one of my favorite authors. Sean Doolittle has a terrific way with words – including great, authentic-sounding dialogue, an effortlessly established sense of place, and characters who are so three dimensional you half expect them to walk into the kitchen and check out what’s in the fridge long after you put the book down. He also has a quality that many of our best writers have: the ability to create characters that are totally human and flawed but also infused with character – not wacky characteristics, but a stubborn and almost unconscious insistence on trying to do the right thing.
It almost always gets them in trouble.
In this case, Mike Barlowe is stubbornly loyal to a screw-up named Darryl Potter, who just can’t stand it that the guy who dozed off a the wheel of his car and killed a young woman walked away with barely a slap on the wrist. As perverse fate would have it, the accident victim’s brother got killed in Iraq on the same day. Darryl, who has tempted fate in all kinds of ways, decides to get right in its face this time, and Mike (whose life Darryl saved in Faluja) reluctantly follows in his wake, trying to repair the damage and save Darryl from himself.
Complicating his efforts to set things right are a cocky, ruthless skip tracer who’s on Darryl’s tail with a timid numbers runner riding shotgun, assorted law enforcement agencies, and a television reporter who is going through something of a mid-life crisis. Doolittle keeps the strands of a complex plot nicely taut as the story unfolds. Props to him, too, for making his women just as fully-developed and interesting as the males. Reporter Maya Lamb is a great character.
Doolittle is a top-notch writer. His style is unobtrusively elegant, his characters wonderfully drawn, and his pacing flawless. On top of that, his books are flat-out fun to read. I have never understood why his name isn’t regularly at the top of the best-seller lists. He’s terrific, and Lake Country is a good place to find out just how good he is. This is going on my Best of 2012 list.